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Thalidomide Survivors In Wales To Get Lifelong Support

September 30, 2022

Survivors of thalidomide in Wales will receive financial help for the rest of their lives, ministers have announced.

Thousands of babies worldwide were born with limb deformities after pregnant mothers took thalidomide to treat morning sickness between 1958 and 1961.

There are about 30 known survivors of the drug in Wales, many aged 60 years or older.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said she hoped news on the funding would provide reassurance to survivors.

A 10-year funding agreement for the Thalidomide Trust Health Grant was due to end in March 2023.

The grant’s distribution to survivors is overseen by the trust, which has received more than £8m from the Welsh government since 2013.

The money is used for help that includes pain management, personal assistance and personal care.

‘Vital assistance’

“I hope the announcement today reassures thalidomide survivors that continued financial support will be available to them,” Ms Morgan said.

“Providing support with their ongoing and future health needs to enable them to maintain independence and wellbeing for as long as possible.

“I want to thank the Thalidomide Trust for their work in helping to oversee the grant and providing vital assistance to thalidomide survivors.”

The Welsh government said it had agreed with the trust that there would be regular reviews of the funding to ensure the needs of survivors continued to be met.

Trust executive director Deborah Jack said: “Most of our beneficiaries are now in their 60s and the years of using their bodies in ways that were never intended has really taken its toll.

“Almost all of them are living with persistent pain and most are now experiencing multiple health problems. The costs of meeting their complex needs are significant and growing.

“Many of them have been really anxious about the prospect of this much-needed funding coming to an end so this is really welcome news.”

Thalidomide was withdrawn in December 1961 and banned as a morning sickness drug, but is still used in the UK to treat certain cancers.

It is heavily regulated to ensure it is not used during pregnancy and only prescribed by specialists.

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