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MSF in Georgia, 2005
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Wars with the secessionist republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and the dismantling of the Soviet Union have left Georgia close to economic and social collapse. Its public health system is in shambles, and the basic health needs of thousands of vulnerable, disabled and elderly people remain uncovered.
Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the area's leading causes of illness and death. MSF suspects that many people with TB in this area suffer from harder-to-treat multidrugresistant (MDR) strains of the disease. MSF runs both TB and MDR-TB programs in the separatist republic of Abkhazia. During 2004, the team increased its admissions to an average of 19 patients a month in the regular TB program and three patients a month in the MDR-TB program. In 2004, MSF changed its TB treatment so that patients could leave the hospital earlier and finish their drug treatment as outpatients at various clinics throughout Abkhazia. At Abkhazia's Dandra prison, MSF is also treating prisoners with TB and by mid-2005, 10 patients were receiving care.
The team supports 11 dispensaries as well as the surgery and cardiology departments in the city hospital in Sukhumi, while an MSF mobile clinic helps reach bed-ridden patients. In 2004, an average of 2,700 medical consultations were conducted and 40 surgeries carried out each month at the hospital. This is a 35 percent increase from 2003.
In the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, MSF operates a medical clinic, dispensary and a mobile team. Together, they carry out an average of 790 consultations per month for people living in the district of Varketeli- Tazisubani. More than half of those identified as medically vulnerable are being cared for through this program, among them elderly people, orphans, pregnant women and isolated mothers without income. MSF is now advocating for local authorities to assume responsibility for this vulnerable population and hopes to hand over the program to the government by the end of 2005.
In addition, MSF supports the surgical department of the district hospital in Akhmeta. The number of operations performed there doubled in 2004, reaching almost 30 a month. The program helps some of the 2,000 Chechen refugees living in Georgia's Pankisi Valley as well as the local population of approximately 40,000 people. At the hospital, MSF is working to improve medical practices, waste-disposal systems and hygiene. In early 2005, the team also began working in the hospital's gynecology and obstetrics department.
MSF continues to support the Douisi surgical post in the Pankisi Valley where a local surgeon handles minor surgeries and medical emergencies. An average of 100 consultations and 40 minor surgeries are performed each month.
MSF has worked in Georgia since 1993.