Strengthening primary health care in rural areas in Georgia
To document the current landscape of primary health care services in rural settings and to identify areas of intervention for improving access to and quality of these services, WHO in collaboration with Georgia’s Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs conducted a joint visit to the Kartli region on 17 May 2019.
Georgia on the right track
This initiative included visits to primary health care services in 3 villages, with a review of the premises and available equipment. Interviews were conducted with health workers, managers and beneficiaries of health services on different aspects of primary health care provision in rural areas. The visits concluded with a consultation with primary health care professionals at Gori State Teaching University.
Commenting on the outcome of the visit, Dr Silviu Domente, WHO Representative in Georgia said, “every country develops its own model of primary health care, but there are well-known desired features of a good primary health care system, among them proximity to the community, responsibility for a defined population, multidisciplinary teams providing care, a comprehensive range of safe and effective services, etc. Today, we saw many of those elements present in Kartli region and this is very encouraging”.
However, Dr Domente went on to recognize that more work was needed and that collaborations such as these would contribute to identifying ways to improve access to and quality of the services.
The visit is the first step in a series of activities aiming at strengthening primary health care in rural areas in collaboration with WHO and with involvement of other local and external partners. It follows the recently initiated dialogue between WHO and the Ministry under the overall commitment towards universal health coverage.
State programme for vulnerable groups
Attending the consultation at the University, Deputy Minister Tamar Gabunia reminded the audience that the government has made a range of high-quality medicines available to vulnerable groups for the treatment of major chronic diseases.
Under the state programme for the treatment of chronic diseases, medicines for chronic heart and lung diseases, chronic diseases of the thyroid gland, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy are provided with a symbolic co-payment of up to 1 Georgian lari (0.30 euro) for people living below the poverty line and with 50% co-payments for pensioners and other vulnerable groups.
The Deputy Minister encouraged health workers to prescribe these medicines to those in need, noting that “the procedures of application for compensated medicines have been simplified as far as possible and should not put much additional burden on beneficiaries”.