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Lisbon, June 21, 2021 (Lusa) – The campaign “Give change to those who need it” starts today in pharmacies across the country to help families made more vulnerable by the covid-19 pandemic, under the Emergency program helped 1,472 people.

The campaign, an initiative developed by Associação Dignitude launched in March 2020 and which aims to provide dignified access to prescription drugs for those who do not have the financial capacity to purchase them, starts today and ends on June 29.

Speaking to Lusa agency, Maria de Belém Roseira, ambassador of Associação Dignitude, explained that the campaign invites people who go to pharmacies to donate “their change”, which will revert to the Emergency Fund abem: Covid-19, within the scope of the medicine’s solidarity network specifically aimed at people who are victims of the consequences of the pandemic, who have lost income.

The collected donations will be fully applied to access medicines, products and health services to people who have become more vulnerable due to the pandemic.

People, according to Maria de Belém Roseira, are identified as having economic need through the association’s partners in the field, they are given a card with a name and an identifying bar code which they then show at the pharmacy.

“We created the program right when the pandemic broke out. Suddenly many people were without resources from one moment to the next and one of the most basic needs people have is to continue taking the medications that are prescribed to them, otherwise this tragedy will be added later to an episode of illness, be it acute or chronic, which gets worse because people do not have access”, he said.

Therefore, underlines Maria de Belém Roseira, the appeal for national solidarity is made through campaigns with the collaboration of Portuguese Pharmacies and local partner entities.

“For this campaign there will be around 600 pharmacies on the continent and in the Autonomous Regions, in the sense that people who go to these pharmacies round up their change, donate their change to the Emergency program abem: Covid-19. Gathering a lot of crumbs, even a few cents, we get an amount that is fully transferred to the fund that supports this program and that is also converted into support for our beneficiaries”, he explained.

According to the ambassador of Dignitude, the beneficiaries are identified by 47 local partners, such as Municipal Councils, Parish Councils, Private Institutions of Social Solidarity, Cáritas and Misericórdias.

“Our beneficiaries are not identified by us, but by the social partners. They are the ones who know the seriousness of the social situations they accompany. This program lives on collaborations between several. We don’t want to do what others can do better than us”, he said.

Maria de Belém highlighted that what Dignitude ensures is the transparent collection, rendering of accounts and its full allocation of support to people in the payment of the portion not reimbursed by the State in medicines that are prescribed by doctors.

According to data from the association, the program has helped 1,472 people by the end of May to access medicines, health products and services and 14,804 deliveries of hospital medication at home or in a pharmacy close to the beneficiaries’ homes, through articulation with 33 hospitals and 2,906 pharmacies.