Australia Apologizes for Thalidomide Scandal
Australia’s PM said sorry to folks affected by the thalidomide scandal mess that wrecked lives for over 60 years. It’s a huge deal, finally recognizing the government’s part in this awful history.
The Big Apology
Anthony Albanese, the PM, stood up in parliament to say sorry for the mess caused by thalidomide. He talked about how dark this time was for Australia’s medical scene.
He looked at the survivors and their families, saying, “We messed up. We’re really, really sorry for what thalidomide did to you, every single day. We can’t say sorry enough.”
No Clear Numbers
We’re not even sure how many people got hit in Australia by thalidomide. But since 2020, more than 140 survivors have signed up for a support program.
A report in 2019 said that if leaders acted quicker, about 20% of the thalidomide cases in Australia might’ve been prevented.
Long Overdue Apology
Trish Jackson, a survivor at 61, told the BBC she hoped this apology could bring a bit of peace to families. But she added, “This should’ve been done ages ago when parents and even some survivors were still around. Some didn’t even get to hear this apology before passing.”
The Thalidomide Story
This drug, made in Germany in the 1950s, was first meant to help with sleep or calm people down. Then it became a big deal as a morning sickness fix globally.
But as more people used it, reports of babies born with serious limb defects started popping up. In 1961, an Australian report in The Lancet, a medical journal, warned everyone about how dangerous thalidomide was. Soon after, it was taken off the shelves.
By then, about 10,000 babies worldwide had been born with disabilities because of it.
Fighting for Justice
For ages, survivors fought for someone to say sorry and make things right. Canada started giving money to survivors in 1991, and in 2010, the UK said sorry to those affected.
But it wasn’t until 2019, after a big Senate inquiry, that Australia finally stepped up to support survivors.
Their money program gave survivors a one-time payment of up to A$500,000 ($332,000; £261,000) and then yearly payments between A$5,000 and A$60,000.
The program closed for new applications, but on Wednesday, Mr. Albanese said they’d open it up again. He wanted to make sure that anyone who missed the chance before could still apply.