ABVT: more than 30 years fighting for handicapped’s rights

Associação Brasileira das Vítimas da Talidomida (ABVT) was created in 1973, in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, by the parents of children who were damaged by the drugs’ collateral effects.

They decided to get together in an association to fight for their children’s right because in Brazil they couldn’t, like in other countries, count on the Government’s support.

It took 11 years for these families to be well succeeded in a request for monthly pensions, in a process against the Brazilian Supreme Court. In December 1983, the Law 7.070/82 was created. It conceded the benefits of a monthly pension to all the handicapped people that had deficiencies caused by thalidomide. From that time on, the Government was supposed to give the pensions with the purpose of helping the expenses of these handicapped persons.

In the beginning it was a great victory. But, due to the constant increase of inflation in Brazil, the amount of money conceded for the benefits turned out to be irrisory. In 1991, ABVT launched a television campaign with the purpose of getting all thalidomide’s victims together, mainly the ones who had lost contact with the association. And, once again, they went together to the Brazilian Supreme Court asking for the pensions’ adjustment. Today, Brazilian thalidomide’s victims receive, as determinated by Law 8686/93, from one to eight minimum salaries (from US$ 98 to US$ 744). The amount varies according to the grade of disease, which is evaluated by a medical report.

ABVT’s effort to advert and make the population acquire knowlegde about thalidomide’s risks has been pretty intensive. In 1992 the association took part in the Unith (United International Thalidomides) and made the denounce that Brazil still has children borning handicapped due to the drug’s usage. The association points out that this happens mostly beause of the lack of control with the drug’s distribution and lack of information between the professionals working in the public health centers.

Later, in 1993, ABVT was still asking “Ministério da Saúde e Previdência Social” (Brazilian Health Ministry) to reinforce the information in the medicine packs and also release material to clarify the public about the pills usage and risks. Other items like the effective control over thalidomide’s production and distribution were also discussed. From november 93 to April of the previous year, ABVT got to diffuse, in the principal Brazilian midia, the campaign “Thalidomide, a problem is going to grow”. During the same period, posters and pamphlets, alerting the population about the collateral effects of the drug, were distributed through all public health centers and hospitals in Brazil. July 1994 brought the regulamentation called “Portaria 63”, which prohibited fertile aged women to use thalidomide.

In 1995, the association launched the advertising campaign “Talidomida: um grito, de alerta” (Thalidomide: an alert scream).

ABVT registered 300 cases during these 28 years but the president of the association, Rosângela Nascimento, believes this number is much higher. She estimates there are about seven thousand deficients in Brazil. Always with a lot of confidence, ABVT is now working to achieve new conquers.

The association wants to get the attention of Brazilian Government and World Health Organization (OMS) which has the drug’s formula and is responsible for its manufacture and liberation. And expects these organs to implant more rigid methods over thalidomide’s distribution and usage. All this struggle is based on the fact that new victims can and ought to be protected from this nightmare.

ABVT – Associação Brasileira das Vítimas da Talidomida

Phone/Fax: 55 31 3498 5970
E-mail: abvt@abvt.org.br
Belo Horizonte – MG – Brazil



Help to control Thalidomide’s usage


Our Rights – Our Battle.

Rights to recognition
We demand that thalidomide’s victims are recognized by the Government, which shall be responsible for researching the right number of victims. We demand that all victims shall have their rights respected, according to law.
Rights to transparency
We demand that all information regarding thalidomide shall be available to the public, such as production, producers, selling numbers, scientific information and research.
Rights to information
We demand the proper and ostensive information to identify the drug, according to law. We demand that thalidomide shall be distributed with deep information, proper warnings abut its effects and risks. We demand a constant and correct orientation given by doctors to their patients.
Rights to public explanation
We demand that Government shall sponsor educative campaigns in order to prevent thalidomide’s improper use, involving national and international health organizations, hospitals, health centers, drugstores and schools. We demand a continuous campaign, broadcasted throughout general mass media, to give all information regarding thalidomide’s collateral effects.
Rights to security
We demand a strict control on thalidomide’s fabrication and distribution. Control over the drug’s presctription, with doctors and patients assuming the responsability of its use.
Rights to assistance and help
We demand that Government shall support all victims and their families, providing psycological and financial help, according to law. Government shall also help all victims with educational and professional support.
Rights to participation
We demand professional and educational opportunities adequated to the victims’ deficiencies as well as proper equipment and services to them.