Lifelong support announced for survivors.
Thalidomide survivors will now receive lifetime funding from the Scottish Government.
The measure extends the previous 2013 agreement which granted survivors £14.2 million over ten years to help meet their health and living costs.
There are currently 50 known survivors of the drug in Scotland, most of whom are now in their 60s, and grants will be allocated on a needs-basis, as assessed by the Thalidomide Trust.
Thalidomide was prescribed to expectant mothers between 1958 and 1961 to relieve morning sickness and insomnia but was withdrawn after thousands of babies were born worldwide with disabilities, including limb damage, sensory impairment and internal damage.
Mr Yousaf said:
“This funding is used to give thalidomide survivors as much assistance as they need to maintain their independence. It has been a vital support in helping people adapt their homes and manage their pain.
“I hope this lifelong commitment to continue this support will reassure recipients and help them deal with any challenges they face.”
Jean, 61, was born with damage to all four of her limbs as a result of thalidomide.
“This is such great news. The Health Grant from the Scottish Government has really helped me over the years - my kitchen, for example, is now completely accessible from my wheelchair and I have been able to build a little gym in the garden which has helped me so much in terms of my physical strength, fitness and my mental health.
“Due to thalidomide, I live with chronic pain and if I don’t move around my body would stiffen and seize up. The grant also allows me to pay for a personal trainer who understands my disabilities and can keep me fit and flexible, without causing further damage.
“Knowing this funding is going to continue indefinitely has given me, and many other Thalidomiders living in Scotland, such peace of mind.”
Deborah Jack, Executive Director of the Thalidomide Trust added:
“This is fantastic and very welcome news. Sadly, as our beneficiaries age they are experiencing multiple health problems, in addition to their original thalidomide damage, and the costs of meeting their complex needs are significant. Many of them have been really anxious about the prospect of this much-needed funding coming to an end.
“We are really pleased that the Scottish government has recognised this by committing to lifetime financial support and also agreeing to review the level of funding regularly to ensure it is meeting their changing needs.”
The money can be used to meet thalidomide survivors’ individual needs, funding home adaptations, specialist equipment and adapted vehicles. It can also pay for assistance with day-to-day tasks that survivors struggle with due to their increasing levels of pain. This support will be crucial in enabling the survivors, to continue living as independently as possible.
Thalidomide was prescribed to expectant mothers between 1958 and 1961 to relieve morning sickness and insomnia, but was withdrawn from sale after thousands of babies were born worldwide with disabilities, including limb damage, sensory impairment and internal damage.
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