Georgia: Card-based programs increase access to health care

MSF and the International Committee of the Red Cross have identified 18,000 people in Abkhazia as vulnerable and without access to health care. These people have been given cards entitling them to free medical treatment from selected doctors at a number of hospitals. MSF provides the doctors with medical supplies, equipment and financial support. An MSF doctor-and-nurse team also provides home care in Sukhumi, Abkhazia's capital, for those unable to travel. A similar card-based program is underway in Varketili, one of Tbilisi's poorest suburbs. MSF opened a clinic there in January 2002 to care for 10,000 people identified as vulnerable, many of them internally displaced people or refugees. MSF diagnoses and treats TB in Sukhumi at the Gurilipchi hospital, several outpatient clinics and the prison using the DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment Short-course) strategy. Some 219 new patients started treatment in the year ending March 2002. A specialized program for multi-drug resistant TB began in mid-2001, with 15 patients included so far. In Akhmeta, MSF supports surgery for refugees and disadvantaged local people by providing medicines and medical equipment. MSF has been active in Georgia since 1993. International staff: 15 National staff: 110