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Blind people and the problems they face in Georgia

By Esma Gumberidze
Monday, April 28
(continued from Monday issue # 071)

Disabled in Georgia face uphill battle for a cure

I've heard, that some students at Tbilisiís public school No. 202 for the blind have vision diseases that are successfully treated and even completely cured abroad. However, these students and their parents either don't know about this, or they don't have the financial resources to receive treatment abroad.

There's an organization called the Centre of Treatment Abroad, but, it charges patients with 100 laris just for sending the initial contact information and medical records to the foreign medical institution.

So, if I want to search for foreign countries or hospitals, I will have to pay 400 laris just to find out if my disease is curable. Besides, in order to send the information about my current medical condition, I will have to undergo high-tech examinations and tests, which aren't paid for by the Georgian government.

The largest monthly allowance for disabled persons in Georgia is currently 150 laris. In these conditions, it might be very hard for a disabled person to even find out whether their disease is curable or not. If a disabled person receives a positive answer from the hospital abroad, even if their family isn't officially declared below the poverty line, it's impossible to cover all the expenses related to the treatment abroad, unless it's one of the richest families in Georgia.

Time is also a concern. For instance, one of the students from school No. 202 for the blind was diagnosed with cancer and was recommended to go to Europe for surgery as soon as possible.

The family asked Rustavi 2 TV to place an ad to raise money, but the TV channel took half of the raised money for the advertising service. With the help of Rustavi 2 the family managed to raise about 100 laris, when thousands of euros were necessary for the treatment. The girl's family couldn't raise any significant sum of money in Georgia. Fortunately, they have a relative, who is a monk in Greece, and he was able to collect the money for the operation.

Though Georgian doctors diagnosed her with cancer, when she finally arrived in Europe, the doctors there determined that she was actually cancer-free and had a completely different medical problem.

In order to at least partly address these health problems, the government should set up an agency, which will help citizens with disabilities wishing to find out if their disease is curable abroad, and assist in connecting them with the foreign hospitals for a reasonable price.

People with special needs should be offered a wider variety and more coverage by government-funded insurance, than regular citizens. The standard packet of medical service coverage that the government offers to every citizen should be given to people with disabilities 100% free of any charges medical consultations, examinations, other medical procedures and medications related to their disability in any medical organization in Georgia they choose.

It will also be good for our country if disabled people discover that their diseases are curable abroad, manage to raise the funds to go there, and get completely cured, because the state won't have to pay them an allowance, which saves money in the long run.

As such, it is in the government's interest to support as many disabled people as possible in addressing their healthcare needs. Contemporary medicine, technology and science are developing and progressing rapidly. Itís possible or might become possible in the future for some disabled people to become completely cured.
(to be continued)