Else Kröner-Fresenius Foundation: award for the work of “Pharmacists without Borders” in the slums of Buenos Aires

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© Simone Utler
“My heart opens when I see that parents can recover and take care of their children themselves. I am also pleased that this award honours the work of the pharmacist, especially since the donor Else Kröner-Fresenius was also a pharmacist.”
Dr Carina Vetye-Maler, Head of Project, Apotheker ohne Grenzen Deutschland e.V
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Since 2010, the Else Kröner-Fresenius Foundation (EKFS) has awarded the prize for Medical Development Cooperation six times. It is a prize endowed with 100,000 euros that honours and supports initiatives to improve health care for people in need and to treat illnesses in countries on the Official Development Assistance (ODA) list.

This year, the prize focuses on the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases, which have been cited as the world's leading cause of death since 2015. These include diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and mental disorders. In developing countries, up to 30 million people die each year from such diseases.

In an interview, Dr Judith von Heusinger, project manager for medical–humanitarian development cooperation at the EKFS, reports about this year's award decision.

Dr von Heusinger, why did EKFS decide this year in favour of the project of Dr Carina Vetye-Maler in Argentina?
With this year's award, the EKFS honours the continuous work of the association “Pharmacists without Borders“ with patients suffering from noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and fat metabolism disorders. Thanks to many years of humanitarian commitment, it has been possible to set up a lighthouse project in the middle of the slums of Buenos Aires to provide high-quality medical and pharmaceutical care free of charge for the poorest of the poor. For over ten years, the project has provided long-term access to health care and has demonstrably reduced the number of deaths and consequential damage caused by cardiovascular diseases in patients in the health centre's catchment area.

How is the project set up?
Since 2008, the association “Pharmacists without Borders“ has been cooperating with the urban health centre Villa Zagala in a slum in Buenos Aires. The slum lacks standard medication, but it also lacks counselling services by specialist staff. Most slum dwellers have informal jobs without health insurance – one reason why there are no general practitioners. The health centre is the first and most important contact point for the sick. Dr Vetye-Maler set up the pharmacy there, which she runs with six volunteers to provide the sick residents with the medicines they need to survive. The city cannot provide them. 

What else is on offer in this health centre, besides medicines?
The project manager of “Pharmacists without Borders“ offers various prevention programmes, including many targeted at children and pregnant women. The Commission was impressed by the commitment of the doctors, nurses, and midwife who work there for little money, as well as by the tireless efforts of Dr Vetye-Maler.

This is the first time they have supported a project in Argentina. What led to this decision?
Dr Carina Vetye-Maler's project differs from many other development cooperation programmes, which are designed externally and set up externally, and thus do not always fit the actual problems on the ground. Dr Vetye-Maler is a citizen of two countries, Germany and Argentina. She grew up in Argentina and only came to Germany after successfully completing her studies. The prize-winning project benefits from her knowledge of Argentina's social and political structures and problems, to which she is able to respond with her local expertise.

How does this award fit in with the Foundation's overall funding concept for medical development cooperation?
With the help of the Else Kröner-Fresenius Prize for Medical Development Cooperation 2018, “Pharmacists without Borders” will be able to co-finance the additional medical staff needed and address the lack of medicines until 2021. This objective is in line with our humanitarian priorities, namely to support medical education and training worldwide and to improve patient care in developing countries.

Interviewer

Dr. Annette Kleinbrod

EZ-Scout of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
seconded to the Association of German Foundations

Telefon (030) 89 79 47-83

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