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Greek Medical Fund ‘Hippocrates’ celebrates 20 years of success

By Levan Abramishvili
Monday, June 17
Celebration of 20 years of success of the Greek Medical Fund ‘Hippocrates’ took place in Tbilisi on June 14. Aside from the medical staff, the event was attended by the Ambassador of Greece to Georgia, H.E. Dimitris Karabalis, the founder of the center and the president of Hellenicare, Dr. Charles Kanakis Jr., the chairperson of the Union of Greek Communities of Georgia, Ms. Eugenia Kotanidis, representatives of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Affairs of Georgia and other guests, who have contributed to the success of the medical centers in Georgia.

Twenty years ago, Andrew A. Athens, Founding President of the World Council of Hellenes, with his friend Dr. Charles Kanakis Jr., for the first time in Georgia, established the Primary Health Care Initiative (PHCI) medical center in Tbilisi; later, another 2 clinics were launched in Tsalka, Kvemo Kartli region, and in village Tsikhisjvari of Borjomi Municipality.

GMF ‘Hippocrates’ was running 3 Medical Mobile Units (MMUs), serving the population in rural areas. The PHCI was to provide medical services to Greeks and any citizen of Georgia in need.

Later on, the GMF ‘Hippocrates’ of Helleniccare received a grant for the humanitarian mission from the US State Department Office of Humanitarian Assistance. Therefore it became a joint venture of Greece, Georgia, and the United States.

After the opening speech of the director of the center, Mr. Roland Stamatov, the president of Hellenicare Mr. Kanakis addressed the gathered guests. He said that he was encouraged when coming to Georgia, with the respect that people working at the clinics still have for Andrew Athens after his passing. He thanked the staff and mentioned that they are the reason for the success of the clinics.

“When we came to Georgia in 1997, those were the black days. Everything has changed over the last 20 years, but the reason for that is not so much what all of us have done outside of Georgia. It’s what you have done here in Georgia. Every doctor, every nurse, every technician, everyone working in this clinic did it with passion,” he said.

H.E. Dimitris Karabalis also addressed the crowd, speaking about the importance of the Fund.

“The Fund has opened its doors literally to every Georgian citizen, regardless of the language that they spoke, the religion that they practiced and the nationality that they had. Nowadays, health has become a treasure, that is being bought and sold with only one criterion – profit …But throughout these 20 years, the personnel of ‘Hippocrates’ didn’t become merchants; you should be proud of this. Despite the possible changes that are ahead of us in Greece, we will try our best to stay close beside you. I hope we will meet your expectations,” said H.E. Karabalis.

Other guests also addressed and thanked the management and the staff of GMF ‘Hippocrates’ for their dedication to their work, wishing them success.

As a sign of respect and gratitude, ‘Hippocrates’ was awarded several certificates and celebratory medals. On their part, the GMF ‘Hippocrates’ also presented H.E. Dimitris Karabalis, Dr. Charles Kanakis Jr. and other honorary guests with symbolic medals celebrating the 20th anniversary.

During the celebratory event, many achievements of the GMF ‘Hippocrates’ were discussed.

From 2003, a humanitarian program was launched for the distribution of medical consumables, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, furniture, and supplies to different medical institutions, including hospitals and ambulatories.

At the same time, with the assistance of the Embassy of Greece in Georgia, the GMF ‘Hippocrates’ participated in YDAS development programs under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece. Up-to-date equipment was purchased in the framework of the said programs, and doctors were sent to Greek hospitals in Thessaloniki and Volos to complete training and master new medical methods.

Owing to the YDAS programs, a modern digital mobile Mammography Unit was purchased, which made it possible for the GMF ‘Hippocrates’ to participate in the National Screening Program in Georgia by providing breast cancer screening, Papanicolaou’s tests (cervical screening) and PSA tests to the population in rural areas throughout the country and in Tbilisi. An important contribution to GMF ‘Hippocrates’ in this task was also made by the International Women Association of Georgia.

As a part of the Georgian healthcare system, the GMF ‘Hippocrates’ was the first organization to immediately respond to the medical needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs) during the 2008 Russo-Georgian war. The GMF “Hippocrates” was sending its doctors and medical mobile units to IDP temporary shelters and collective centers offering medical care, medicines, and humanitarian aid.

As of today, the GMF ‘Hippocrates’ has received about 3 500 000 patient visits. As a part of the Georgian healthcare system, the GMF ‘Hippocrates’ is participating in the Social Insurance Program and the National Screening Program.

Towards the end of the event, members of the Union of Greek Youth of Georgia performed traditional Greek dances, while Georgians entertained the guests with several Georgian dances.

The Messenger wishes GMF ‘Hippocrates’ many more years of success on their path to providing healthcare for everyone in need.