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Georgia facilitates medical treatment to patients from breakaway regions

By Tina Tskhovrebadze
Wednesday, September 20
On September 16, speaking in Zugdidi, Samegrelo region, Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili stressed the importance of the recently completed project that envisioned construction of a university hospital in the village of Rukhi. The village is at the border with breakaway Abkhazia region and the hospital, which is equipped with modern technology, will offer medical treatment both to citizens of Georgia and de facto Abkhazia at affordable prices, prime minister pledges.

In recent years, more and more residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia opt for receiving medical treatment in Georgia. This could be explained by keen interest of the Georgian government to create favourable conditions to patients coming from de facto regions and facilitate the procedures. However, residents of de facto regions have to face a number of challenges before coming to Georgia.

Despite the obstacles, most residents of de facto regions get medical treatment outside. The Ministry of Health of Abkhazia assists its residents to receive treatment in Russian Medical Centers, however, significant number of de facto Abkhazia’s citizens prefer to visit hospitals in Georgian cities. In a number of interviews given to the Georgian media outlet Netgazeti some patients from Abkhazia say, this preference is caused by better care and attention from the side of Georgian doctors. Though, visiting Georgia for medical purposes is connected to some challenges. Netgazeti informs among other issues are disinformation, fear and widespread stereotypes. The rumors about Georgian doctors even include the story that Georgian doctors use special medicine that first has good effects on patients, but in the long term works as a poison. Those who ignore such kind of myths and decide to come to Georgia for treatment, have to go through a long way to receive permission including consent from family members. Those patients who have already been treated in Georgia mention that they had a privilege to receive some services and medicine free of charge.

According to the official data from the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia 875 patients from Abkhazia received medical treatment in 2015 and the state budget expenditure amounted to 2 324 709.76 GEL. In 2016, Hospitals in different cities of Georgia hosted 1316 patients from Abkhazia and the state budget paid 3 197 399.14 GEL. In total, the Georgian state has spent more than GEL12 million from 2015 till June 19, 2017 for the health care of residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Researches show that the long-term policies such as free health care programs for the residents of breakaway regions have positive outcomes on improving communication and relationships as well. Many hope that such type of initiatives will help to restore trust, communication and facilitate the process of integration.