Earlier this year the travel bug brought me to Georgia. I wanted to learn more about people who are directly affected and part of the ongoing transformation and consequences of the medical health system in Georgia; focusing on their real stories that had devastating effects on their current live and work.
Georgia is situated in the South Caucasus, on the southern foothills of the Greater Caucasus mountain range. The northern border with the Russian Federation follows the axis of the Greater Caucasus. To the south lies Armenia and, to the south-east, Azerbaijan. There is a short border with Turkey to the south-west and a western coastline on the Black Sea.
When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, Georgia suffered a severe economic downturn which has left over half the population unemployed. Economically, the country was in a very difficult state. Depression seemed to have oozed across the country like an epidemic.
For 70 years, the healthcare system in Georgia was funded and delivered through he state. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, investment, along with quality of care, declined sharply. The Soviet model of care was hospital-centric, and there was an oversupply of hospitals, beds, and doctors, yet there was a dramatic shortage of nurses.
The transformation is on going, the future seems to be bright, but challenges remain.
Most of the health practitioner I've met were directly affected by the war. Most of them come from privileged backgrounds with medical history in their family trees. Nevertheless they worked and studied hard, were practising medicine under extreme physical and psychological circumstances. At that time Georgians were cut off from food, water, medical supplies and electricity incl. hospitals.
For every heart-wrenching story I‘m digesting my own experiences from the various public and private hospitals as well as mental clinics I’ve visited. I am still working on the the interviews such as the one from the Clinical Director of Cardiac Surgery Department in a private clinic who studied in Switzerland and Germany, owns a vine-yard and I witnessed two open heart surgeries, over to the 90+year old professor who founded the first Clinic for burned victims (part of the University Hospital) in Tbilisi as well as Board Members of the Association of Pharmaceutical Companies Reps in Georgia (APCRG).
I am very thankful for the hospitality, patience and people's openness and I was astonished by their energy, compassion, and commitment as health practitioner to serve others.
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