Updated: Apr 29, 2021
Medicine has been on all of our minds this past year. With a global pandemic raging around the world, and modern medicine stepping in to save the day, it is hard to ignore its role in our lives and our health.
In many ways, medicine keeps our world running, and it is our responsibility to make sure the right people receive the right medicine.
This is where Haverim L’Refuah (Friends for Health) steps in. Founded 18 years ago in Bnei Brak, Israel, by Baruch Liberman and the late Rabbi Yechiel, Haverim L’Refuah ensures that no one be left without the medication they need. As the world’s first social startup for medication rescue, Haverim L’Refuah gathers and delivers over 7,000 packages a month to those who cannot afford their medication, completely free!
Unfortunately, there are many services and medications that Israel’s public healthcare system cannot supply or cover, leaving thousands stuck with bills they cannot pay, or medications they have no way of receiving. There are also thousands upon thousands of people with medications they no longer need, which sit in the back of their cupboards, unused and unneeded.
With a vision and a plan, two men saw the vast potential of the situation. The story goes that one day, Rabbi Yechiel and Baruch received a call from a woman who accidentally froze her fertility treatment, ruining it, and looking for help wherever she could. Later that same day, they received another call from a woman already pregnant, looking to donate her last, unneeded fertility treatment. The message was clear. And so, Haverim L’Refuah was born.
Through collecting and redistributing unneeded medications, they have saved thousands of lives, and millions of dollars. Think of it as the “Uber of Medication”, recycling and reusing medication that may no longer be useful for one person, but needed by another.
How does it work?
Today, Haverim L’Refuah has 800 drop-off points around the country for unused and even expired medications, which are delivered to the organization’s secondhand pharmacy, where they are processed and sorted, ready to save lives. The non-profit supplies over 40,000 people a year with the proper medications and deliver to the door, with most of their recipients being patients of chronic illness who require monthly deliveries.
Whether an Israeli citizen or tourist, whether from Gaza or the heart of Tel Aviv, Haverim L’Refuah is committed to helping each and every person in need, regardless of ethnicity, citizenship, or background. To them, we are all human, and we all deserve life.
Haverim L’Refuah has partnered with every Superpharm pharmacy in the country and receives each and every secondhand medication sorted and approved by them (this is an Israeli law now!!). In addition to Superpharm, Haverim L’Refuah has recently teamed up with צה"ל, the Israeli Defense Force, who replenishes their medicine stocks each year, the old usually thrown away. Today, Haverim L’Refuah has successfully managed to receive most of the army’s reusable medication!
They believe in Tikun Olam (a Jewish precept of healing the world), and not only by saving lives, but the environment too! When old and outdated medications are thrown away improperly, they disintegrate and release poisons to the environments around them. Haverim L’Refuah ensures that all expired and unusable medications are disposed of in a safe and ecological way.
What can you do to help?
The task is easy and simple; go through your own medicine cabinets, gather and deliver any unneeded and expired medications to your nearest Superpharm! If you do not need them anymore, you may help to save a life. And if they are expired, you are helping to save the world around us. Although medications produced outside of Israel are unable to be given out within the country, they will be brought into safe hands and disposed of carefully.
As Pesach is around the corner, and we are already deep into our Spring cleaning already, head on over to your medicine cabinets (and maybe your parents’ and grandparents’) and give them a good cleaning too! It will save lives.
If you would like to donate any money in addition to your old medicine cabinet, head on over to Haverim L’refuah’s website to support them!
Whether you donate money, expired or unneeded medicine, know that you can make a difference, to both the health of humanity and the health of the world as well.