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MOBILE PHARMACY SET TO TRANSFORM DOCTORS' LIVES

Penny Kennedy (Development Associate), Dentist Anne McIlmoyle, Teacher Amanda Irvine, Dr Olwyn Hilliard, and Trustee Joe Hyland from The Smiles Foundation getting loaded up for the journey to Romania. US32-401PM Pic by Paul Murphy

Romanian dream becomes a reality

A DREAM became reality for a Dromara GP last week as she and a number of friends stocked up a mobile pharmacy which will provide much needed life saving care for people in some of Romania's most isolated areas.

Dr. Olwyn Hilliard first identified the need for the pharmacy when she and a number of other people from Northern Ireland travelled to Romania last year under the auspices of the Christian charity organisation 'The Smiles Foundation'.

She was very moved by the extremely limited resources available to the Foundation's two doctors who travel for miles across the Romanian countryside in a rusty old car to deliver care to the elderly and the sick.

"I could see the need for this van immediately because the doctors did not have any suitable transport to go and visit patients," she explained.

"Often, when they get to the patients they find they do not have the necessary drugs and medicine with them.

"They can travel as much as 40 to 50 miles to see patients and that is a wasted journey if they find they cannot provide what is needed

"This new van will allow them to take a wide selection of medicines with them." Events to raise funds for the van have taken place all over the province in places as far apart as Belfast, Ardstraw, Richhill, Hillsborough, Fermanagh and Ballynahinch.

Money was raised by people taking part in fun runs and holding coffee mornings and craft sales.

Pantomimes

Others packed bags in supermarkets, ran in marathon relay teams and took part in church pantomimes.

Ice lollies were sold to hot sticky school children and there were generous donations from pharmacists province-wide. Over 12,000 has been raised so far.

Once the vehicle was purchased, Brown's Coach Works in Moira provided the project with some wonderful support by helping convert it into a bespoke mobile pharmacy.

Dr. Hilliard said she and her friends could not adequately express their gratitude to all the people who had helped with the project.

Stocking of the new mobile pharmacy took place last Thursday evening and she said the generosity displayed had been very moving.

The van will now be driven to Romania by dentist Anne Mcllmoyle and Teacher Amanda Irvine.

A warm tribute was paid to Dr. Hilliard and all those involved in the project by Neil Gordon of Gordon's Chemists who have been involved with the project since its inception.

"Due to the now renowned generosity of the Northern Irish people coupled with the tireless effort of fund raisers, in three short months the idea of a mobile pharmacy has become a reality," he said.

"Taking advice from volunteers, who had spent time in Romania; it became evident that prompt action was required to address the basic lack of resources and equipment needed to treat the sick and elderly within the area.

"This project will truly make a difference to the day to day lives of the doctors and will have a positive impact on the lives of the sick and elderly of North West Romania.

"It was an honour for Gordon's Chemist to be involved with such a worthwhile cause."

Ulster Star
11/08/2006