The Malta Independent 23 June 2024, Sunday
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Thalidomide victims receive first compensation payment from near €1 million fund

Wednesday, 22 May 2024, 16:23 Last update: about 1 month ago

The first instalment of the compensation payment, from a fund of nearly €1 million, to 25 people who had been confirmed to suffer from a type of disability following their ingestion of Thalidomide has been issued, the Minister of Inclusion, Julia Farrugia Portelli, announced on Wednesday.

She said that the government has begun a process of rigorous evaluation to evaluate compensation claims for those who suffered damages. The evaluation will be done by an independent medical board which received 40 applications for compensation, though from the 40 only 25 have a disability caused by thalidomide, she said.

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The government took the decision to expedite payments and ensure financial compensation for victims, Farrugia Portelli said, so much so, that they will be issued over 3 years instead of 7. She said that the first payment will be issued this year, the second in 2025 and the third in 2026 adding that this decision shows the government’s commitment to quick justice to the victims of thalidomide.

 Farrugia Portelli explained how, once again, the government has corrected an injustice and through this scheme has served justice despite the hurt of the past. “We heard and understood the message of these victims. Despite the fact that no value can be put on a person’s health, this compensation will offer justice to those victims who have suffered a long time, and finally, enough”, she said.

Farrugia Portelli said that this one-off compensation ex gratia was worked out through a formula which takes into consideration the percentage of a person’s disability and the age of the person, amongst other factors. She added that the least amount that will be given in compensation is €22,537 and the highest amount is €68,815.   

Farrugia Portelli explained that in the sixties, thalidomide pills were normally prescribed for pregnant women suffering from morning sickness and despite the drug being prohibited internationally in 1961, it was still dispensed in Malta until 1968. She added that this drug was the cause of a number of miscarriages and of deformed babies.

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