The messenger logo

Opposition Says Free Medicine Program Failed

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, February 13
(TBILISI) - The European Georgia opposition member Zurab Chiaberashvili claims that the government-initiated free medicine program launched last year has failed.

Chiaberashvili says only 13,000 people, mostly socially vulnerable, could benefit from the program. The government claimed that about 200,000 people would have been able to buy medicines for chronic diseases with a symbolic price - 1 GEL.

“In total 3, 6 million GEL was allocated for the program, and the Health Ministry spent only 2,6 million,” Chiaberashvili says.

The opposition member stated that free medicines must be added to the General Healthcare Program, as medicine costs are high in the country and most of the people cannot afford them.

Health Minister David Sergeenko stated in response that all programs have their pros and cons.

“The program was launched last year and at least 6 months should have been passed for us to see the advantages and disadvantages,” Sergeenko said.

The Minister stated that not all the medicines which were in the free medicines’ list were in high demand. Therefore, not all the allocated money was spent within the program.

“The money which is still available will be spent on the free-medicine program,” Sergeenko added.

The Health Ministry is now negotiating with private companies to increase the circle of the people who will buy medicines with a symbolic price or for a “very low price.”

Sergeenko stated that together with the socially vulnerable, people with disabilities and pensioners will be able to enjoy “very affordable prices” for about 50 medicines.

Experts claim that lowering medicine prices for certain categories of people may result into increasing costs for the rest of the population.