Australia Says Sorry for Thalidomide Mess

Australia’s Prime Minister recently said a big sorry to all the folks hit by the thalidomide mess. This whole mess started more than 60 years ago when a medicine used for morning sickness caused serious problems in babies worldwide.

A Dark Chapter

The PM, Anthony Albanese, spilled the beans in parliament, calling this thalidomide thing one of Australia’s worst medical mess-ups. It’s the first time the government’s admitted it had a role in this big tragedy.

An Apology at Last

Albanese didn’t hold back, apologizing to survivors and their families for the pain they’ve faced daily because of thalidomide. He said sorry big time, acknowledging the immense suffering they’ve been through.

The Unknown Toll

The exact number of people in Australia affected by thalidomide is still a mystery. But since 2020, over 140 survivors have signed up for a money help program.

Late to the Game

A report in 2019 found that if leaders had acted faster, about 20% of thalidomide cases in Australia might have been avoided. Survivor Trish Jackson, 61, talked to the BBC, saying the apology might bring some peace, but it should’ve come way earlier when families were still together.

The Thalidomide Story

Back in the 1950s, thalidomide was made in Germany as a sedative, but then it got pushed worldwide as a fix for morning sickness. But as more people used it, more reports came in about babies being born with serious limb problems.

The Wake-Up Call

It was an Aussie report in a fancy medical journal, The Lancet, that sounded the alarm about thalidomide’s dangers in 1961. After that, it was quickly pulled off the market. But by then, around 10,000 babies globally were born with disabilities because of it.

Long Fight for Justice

Survivors have been battling for years to get some acknowledgment and cash for what they’ve been through. Canada started giving money to survivors in 1991, and the UK said sorry to those affected in 2010.

Australia’s Action

It wasn’t until a big Senate inquiry in 2019 that Australia finally did something to support survivors. They set up a cash program, giving a one-time payment of up to A$500,000 to survivors, plus yearly payments between A$5,000 and A$60,000.

Reopening Doors

Later on, the program closed to new folks, but Albanese just announced it’s open again. He wants to make sure no one who missed the first chance to apply misses out now.