Long-term illnesses and chronic diseases are commonly associated with older people and not with children. However, a small but significant number of children suffer from chronic diseases. These diseases cause stress on children and their families, and demand substantial amounts of time, energy and personal resources in order to cope with the situation (Jessop & Stein 1989).

There are many different types of chronic diseases and illnesses. Some are present at birth, while others may develop at a later stage during infancy or childhood. While some children with chronic diseases or illnesses of childhood may grow out of them later in life, most will not be able to lead normal lives in the absence of special care or management (Jessop & Stein 1989). However, with appropriate management, many children with chronic conditions can function well and live almost normal lives.