The doctor will come for free if you might have H1N1
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, December 11Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava held a special briefing about the H1N1 virus on December 9 at which he stated that a doctor would attend someone's home free of charge if they displayed flu symptoms. He added that this decision was a response the growing number of people infected with H1N1. “I can inform Tbilisi residents that this service will be available only for those with flu symptoms. A sick person should however visit a polyclinic or see a doctor immediately, as only after this can a doctor decide how and in what conditions treatment should be given,” said the Mayor.
Ugulava said that this Mayoral initiative would significantly simplify the provision of medical services, and consequently even if the number of infected people increases considerably the polyclinics and hospitals would not become overcrowded. The initiative is being financed by 1 million GEL from the Tbilisi Mayor's budget, doctors being given an additional 225 GEL monthly to defray the earnings they will lose when this service is provided free. This project is to continue for 4 months.
Ministry of Health representative Zurab Utiashvili stated yesterday that this free service would be available in the regions as well, the cost met by the Ministry. "The Ministry of Health has made a decision to provide free of charge medical services when flu symptoms are manifest and the country will thus fight successfully against the H1N1 virus,” Utiashvili said. Minister of Health Aleksandre Kvitashvili also made a special statement concerning the H1N1 virus on December 10. He suggested that the country is ready to fight a pandemic and added that the Tbilisi Mayor’s initiative has been agreed with the Ministry. "We have enough of the medicines used to fight this virus in the country and that is why there is no reason to panic. However the Tbilisi Mayors’s initiative and the Ministry’s decision will have a positive effect,” he said.
The Minister added that an epidemic will be declared in the country when the number of infected persons exceeds a certain limit. The number of people infected is calculated based on data from polyclinics and hospitals. Kvitashvili said that at present Georgia is not even close to declaring an H1N1 epidemic.
Kvitashvili’s figures were confirmed by the head of the National Disease Control Centre, Paata Imnadze, who said that the virus is controllable and there is no reason for panic. "Many Georgian citizens have already fought this infection successfully. We have only four cases at the moment, but even in these the disease is absolutely under control. I should point out that I am glad of the decision of the Tbilisi Mayor and the Ministry of Health, this is a very positive and sensible step to avoid the spread of the virus,” Imnadze said.
The opposition have commented on the decision to provide free medical services for flu sufferers. Labour's Soso Shatberashvili stated on December 10 that his party should get the credit for this decision as it had demanded it. "The Labour Party has demanded that this decision be taken and it seems the Government has taken our demands into consideration, but now we demand that the medicines used to treat this virus be made free of charge as well, as at the present moment Tamiflu and such anti virus medicines are the most expensive in the country,” Shatberashvili said.
According to National Disease Control Centre and the Ministry of Health figures the registered number of infected people is 400, but Imnadze states that the real total is probably nearly 1,000. It is most important to treat H1N1 quickly. As soon as someone shows the first symptoms of the virus, like high temperature or weakness, they should see a doctor immediately or call them at home to avoid having additional complications.
Of 400 infected people in Georgia most are children. Doctor Media Zarnadze states that parents should be very careful and visit the doctor promptly when the symptoms of H1N1 present themselves as a child’s immune system is not as powerful as an adult's and it cannot always combat strong viruses effectively.