Three out of every ten families living in poverty have stopped buying medicines due to their scant resources. These are data from Banco Farmacéutico, a Spanish NGO which has been operating for over ten years, which highlight the importance of solidarity to collect essential drugs to ensure no one lacks the treatment they require. This is what drives volunteers such as Ana Gil, CEO of EDF Península Ibérica, to join up. She is proud of the fact that, year after year, numerous pharmacies and volunteers throw themselves into making this solidarity initiative a great success.
TEXT: NURIA DEL OLMO. @NURIADELOLMO74 PHOTOS: MÁXIMO GARCÍA
Her arrival in Madrid, two years ago, coincided with a major advance in her professional career at the leading French power generation and distribution company. And also with new challenges in the volunteering and social action field. Ana Gil (Zaragoza, 1971) is currently involved in an essential drugs solidarity campaign promoted by Banco Farmacéutico, a nonprofit organization which helps over two million people at risk of poverty and social exclusion gain access to basic medicines. Her spirit of solidarity grows day by day and, whenever she can, she spreads the word within her own company, with activities that afford her great satisfaction.
How did you start collaborating with Banco Farmacéutico?
It all started thanks to a friend I’d been accompanying for some time doing volunteer work. It was with her I discovered that, despite the universal coverage of our social security system, there are people who suffer from pharmaceutical poverty. It was clear to me that I should offer up some of my time to enhance the most valuable thing we have – our health – and help those who sometimes have to choose between buying food or medicine. Through its good work, Banco Farmacéutico reaches out to lend a hand to people we do not know and who cannot afford something that, for most of us, is both basic and essential.
“Our goal is to ensure that no patient misses out on treatment due to a lack of financial resources”
What kind of people make up this NGO?
The real driving force behind the association are the 60-plus volunteers who collaborate throughout the year on various projects, as well as the work of 900-plus who participate each year in the solidarity campaign. Since its inception in 2007, this campaign has managed to collect more than 120,000 medicaments, thanks to the collaboration of over 1,000 pharmacies and 2,500 volunteers.
March 10 is a very important date. What are the objectives for this year?
This is indeed a truly significant day, as it is the focal point of the year’s endeavors. Once more, we will be encouraging everyone to collaborate, this year by contributing 2.5 euros to a solidarity fund, with the aim of raising a minimum of 30,000 euros. The work of the volunteers is essential for a solidarity campaign to work. We need the assistance of at least 1,200 volunteers to cover the 600 pharmacies which have undertaken to participate this year in various Spanish cities. In this edition, instead of collecting non-prescription drugs, as has been the case for the past ten years, the aim is to raise funds to help pay for longer-term prescription drug plans for those most in need, namely those suffering from more serious, or even chronic, health problems.
What distinguishes the volunteers who collaborate in the campaign?
I believe we are individuals who give up our time to enhance the visibility of a real problem, albeit unknown to many. We also promote a series of essential values, such as solidarity, generosity and empathy, which we like to share with others and which will undoubtedly help ensure our society becomes more human and less indifferent. Moreover, we are aware of the needs of thousands of homeless people, families with children, drug addicts or mentally ill people, among others, and we strive to raise awareness among the general public and get them to join the project.
Why? What has this kind of work got to offer?
Helping others, improving their health and supporting the most vulnerable in society, so that they feel loved and not alone, is tremendously gratifying. It’s also highly rewarding to see how well the campaign is received among those who enter the pharmacies. As soon as they know the reason for our work, they are interested and want to get involved. That’s really gratifying.
Do you collaborate with other solidarity projects?
In our company, I decided to propose several initiatives to the team and they were very well received. During the month of December, for example, we decided to donate the amount equivalent to the corporate gift for our clients to the Aladina Foundation. We have also encouraged employees to sign up to this kind of initiatives and to donate the value of their Xmas hamper. These are popular actions that achieve an excellent level of participation.