Campaign to help those unable to buy medicine

By Kim Schiffmann, in News · 23-12-2019 08:00:00 · 0 Comments

The Dignitude Association has launched a national fundraising campaign to help those who, due to financial difficulties, cannot buy prescription drugs, a situation that affects people of all ages.

The campaign "Give Change to Those in Need", which runs until 25 December in more than 700 pharmacies and is promoted by the programme ABEM: Dignitude Solidarity Network of Medicines, intends that those who go to these establishments can donate change to a solidarity fund that will help the approximately 12,000 people identified by the association's partners as living in poverty and unable to buy these medicines.

Speaking to Lusa, Maria de Belém Roseira, ambassador of the ABEM Programme, highlighted the “economic weakness of a significant number of people in Portugal”, noting that “before social transfers there are 40 percent of people at risk of poverty and, after social transfers, there are still 17.2 percent”.

"This means that 1.7 million people in Portugal are at risk of poverty, including a high percentage in severe cases," he said, stressing that for lack of funds, when they go to the pharmacy, they are forced to “make choices”, giving up buying medicines that, being prescribed by the doctor, are essential.

Maria de Belém Roseira recalls that "prescription drugs lack control of the disease, whether acute or chronic", and that this problem "affects people in all age groups".

“Up to 18 years we have 12 percent of the beneficiaries and a very substantial part of working age people. Only then do the elders appear to us, which is that stratum that we thought would have more difficulties,” she explained.

Maria de Belém added that this is “a corporate social responsibility programme that bears the structural costs” and that the amount raised goes to a solidarity fund, with its own management and audit, “to ensure that everything that is donated … is fully applied to the programme”.

“As a community, we are all responsible for each other and we cannot accept that there is anyone who, because of economic need, cannot access the medicines that allow them to cope with their health problems. It is time for civil society to come together”, she considers.

The official also stressed the social and economic return of this initiative: “When people stop taking the medicines they need, this ends up becoming more expensive to society (…), due to the effort that is requested from the NHS [National Health Service]”.

“People who need and do not treat themselves become more seriously ill. When they need to be addressed [at the NHS] they will cost a lot more, both for the level of care and the intensity of health care they need,” she said.

Asked by Lusa, Maria de Belém Roseira explained how the programme works: “the referral entity communicates to Dignitude the identification data of that beneficiary who understands that it needs support and is given a barcode card with which one pays for medicines [not paying] at the pharmacy.”

"Then, monthly, through the Abem Solidarity Fund [constituted with donations] the solidarity network of the drug transfers to the pharmacies the amount due to them according to the expense that the beneficiaries made," she added.

Maria de Belém also underlined the social damage that the abandonment of therapy causes to OECD countries, "valued at over a hundred million Euros".

In relation to the funds collected in previous campaigns, they are around 60,000 Euros.

The official launch of the “Give Change to Those in Need” campaign takes place on 16 December at Santarita Pharmacy in Algés and the initiative continues until Christmas Day.

The Dignitude Association was born in 2015 and is a private social solidarity institution whose mission is to develop social impact programmes that promote the quality of life and well-being of the Portuguese. ABEM: Solidarity Network of Medicines is the first Programme promoted by the Dignitude Association.


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