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MSF in Georgia, 2004
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Prolonged political instability and exhaustion from a variety of violent internal divisions have left Georgia's health care system unable to cope with the demands placed upon it. As a result, thousands of the country's civilians lack the most basic care and medicines. MSF focuses on getting desperately needed help to groups lacking assistance including the disabled and the elderly.
The separatist republic of Abkhazia is the focus for MSF's tuberculosis (TB) work. At Gulripsh Hospital, MSF staff members provide care and medicines for approximately 240 people suffering from TB. They also recently began treating about 20 patients living with multidrug-resistant TB, a type of TB that is more difficult to treat because of its resistant to the first-line drugs usually used to cure the patient. MSF is working to involve the ministry of health in the program's management. A team also screens all prisoners in Dandra prison and separates contagious patients from non-contagious ones in an effort to stem the spread of the disease among this confined group.
In Abkhazia's capital, Sokhumi, and that of Georgia itself, Tbilisi, MSF uses a network of family doctors to provide health care for the most vulnerable and excluded. The priority has been to improve the referral system to hospitals and the overall quality of the free care available to these patients. Some 60 percent of these people are single, isolated individuals above the age of 65, who cannot afford to pay for health care and who have no one to help them get it. In Sokhumi, the program's 13 general practitioners care for approximately 19,000 people, carrying out 2,000 consultations and 30 surgical procedures each month. In Tbilisi, an average of 880 consultations are done every month.
MSF doctors perform surgery, mostly involving emergencies, within Akhmeta's district hospital located in the political and military flashpoint of the Pankisi Valley. The organization created a surgical point in the valley where a local surgeon handles minor operations and emergencies before referral to the district hospital. This first aid point also provides follow-up for patients in the valley after hospitalization.
MSF has worked in Georgia since 1993.