With a commitment of $10 million, Direct Relief and Pelion SA will cover drug costs in pharmacies across Poland
By Paul M. Sherer
Direct Relief and Pelion SA today announced Health 4 Ukraine, a direct cash assistance initiative enabling Ukrainian refugees in Poland to obtain free prescription drugs from any pharmacy in the country.
Leveraging existing pharmaceutical distribution and payment systems in Poland to quickly and efficiently reach Ukrainian refugees across Poland, the program offers electronic credit to cover 100% of prescription co-payments and 85% of drug costs without arrangement. Registration for the program is free and begins next week. Program information is available at www.Health4Ukraine.com.
The program is endowed with $10 million from the nonprofit humanitarian organization Direct Relief.
Pelion SA, Poland’s largest healthcare company, will make payments to pharmacies through its electronic payment company epruf. Pelion is also donating $1 million in free medical consultations with Ukrainian-speaking doctors through its Dimedic telemedicine service.
Direct Relief and Pelion hope to expand the initiative to 400,000 refugees, including 100,000 elderly people and 300,000 women and children. This expansion, requiring additional donor funding, would cover nearly half of the more than 880,000 Ukrainian citizens who have registered for a Polish State Identification Number (PESEL). PESEL numbers allow Polish residents to access state-provided healthcare and other social services.
“Direct Relief is deeply grateful for Pelion’s leadership in creating this direct and highly effective way to help people forced to flee their homes in Ukraine, helping them get the essential medicines they need for their health,” said Thomas Tighe, President and CEO of Direct Relief. “The initial funding of $10 million comes from contributions from thousands of people who are deeply concerned about the well-being of Ukrainians whose lives have been disrupted and threatened. This approach connects this incredible generosity in a practical and important way to the Ukrainian people for whose benefit Direct Relief has received the funds.
“It is a special day for us and a great privilege to launch a unique national medical support program for Ukrainian patients in cooperation with Direct Relief,” said Jacek Szwajcowski, Chairman of the Board of Pelion SA. “The 10 million dollars donated today is an extremely important and real help, which will go to people in need, mainly mothers with children and the elderly. The co-financing program for the purchase of medicines developed by our company is fully tested and guarantees full transparency. The assistance offered by Direct Relief is additionally complemented by free telemedicine services in Ukrainian. We have already donated more than one million dollars for this purpose. I hope cooperation initiated today will be long-lasting and will encourage more donors to join in. The scale of the need is enormous.
HOW IT WORKS
The new Direct Relief–Pelion program will cover 100% of prescription copayments and 85% of the costs of certain over-the-counter healthcare expenses for Ukrainian refugees by loading cash credit on the epruf web application. Each participant will receive access to their account in the web application, linked to each person’s PESEL number. The program works in any pharmacy in Poland. More than five million people in Poland use epruf’s payment systems.
Each participant will receive a credit of 500 Polish zlotys (approximately US$117) – the estimated subsidy per person required for six months of prescription and non-prescription medical expenses, based on more than ten years of data tracked by epruf. Participants will be entitled to a second top-up after four months.
Almost all prescription drugs will be covered, including drugs for common chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Since all payments will go through the epruf system directly to pharmacies, the program provides transparency and accountability.
Many refugees have fled Ukraine with little money, cannot return to Ukraine anytime soon and therefore have to rebuild their lives.
DIRECT RELIEF RESPONSE TO DATE
Direct Relief is one of the few non-governmental organizations recognized by the Ukrainian Ministry of Health as “international partners”, alongside United Nations agencies such as the World Health Organization, multilateral organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and national agencies. government aid agencies like USAID: https://en.moz.gov.ua/international-partners?page=3.
In response to requests from the Ministry of Health and other local healthcare providers, Direct Relief has delivered over 206 tons of medicine and supplies, covering health issues ranging from traumatic injuries to cancer to diabetes and the Covid-19. Direct Relief also responded to requests for drugs needed to respond to chemical attacks.