“Hepatitis C is a truly outstanding program, which goes above and beyond any politics. Besides, some actions are unworthy of people” states Ex-MOH and PM Adviser on Health Print Version

2020-01-16

"Hepatitis C is a truly outstanding program, which goes above and beyond any politics. Besides, some actions are unworthy of people" stated David Sergeenko, Adviser to the Prime Minister of Georgia and Former Minister of Health today.
Comment was made on the report recently released by the State Audit Office (SAO) of Georgia with an aim of clarifying the actual performance of the program.
"SAO Report was published some days ago, which revealed that medication of Hepatitis C in the value of over 0.5 BLN GEL was made useless in 2018. This statement was followed by certain political speculations and as I was a Minister of Health in those times, I thought it right to make clarifications on the matter so that no question remains without answer in the society.

Was even one patient harmed with this at all, you may ask and my answer is no. Compared to 2015-2016, when demand from patients exceeded capacity of the program, in 2018 we had to pro-actively search for patients to get them enrolled.
Were patients treated with outdated medication, you may ask and my answer is by no means. By that time we had received a new shipment of medication, which was within the shelf life span" noted David Sergeenko.
Former Minister of Health also spoke about the financial aspects of the program.

"As for the financial side of it - everyone will agree that medication in the value of 0.5 BLN GEL getting unusable sounds rather brutal and leaves a lot of questions behind. When people need treatment, how come medication in the value of 0.5 BLN GEL gets useless. Let me remind you that Georgia is getting this medication for gratis. State Audit Office (SAO) had to somehow quantify this donation and I assume they looked the price up in Wikipedia or a similar portal. SAO Report indicates prices dating back to 2016, which are indeed high. Its price declined several times in 2018, though it is irrelevant now. It only matters for comparison purposes - if we take the same prices, we may end up having 17 BLN GEL spent on the medical treatment of 65 thousand patients as of today" added David Sergeenko.

In the opinion of the Adviser to the Prime Minister of Georgia on Health, communication with international partners was seamless during the program flow and Georgia was recognized at a Role Model in Fighting Hepatitis C in April 2019 at an International Liver Congress held in Vienna, Austria, attended by all partners engaged in the program.

"As for whether our partners knew about it and what was their reaction towards getting medication worth of 0.5 BLN GEL useless, let me say the following: it is naive of course to think that a project of this scale and magnitude would flow without a constant communication with our partners. They knew about it of course. We have had communication and even proposed to transfer the lot to another country as a donation, as we were witnessing under-performance in terms of program engagement, though our partners stressed that this donation was exclusively for Georgia - it was granted free of charge only to Georgia.
If you ask me what their reaction was, let me say that 1 year after these events - in April 2019 - Georgia was recognized at a Role Model in Fighting Hepatitis C at an International Liver Congress held in Vienna, Austria, attended by all partners engaged in the program" noted David Sergeenko.

Adviser to the Prime Minister of Georgia on Health also focused on the management of the project and urged the citizens to use this opportunity and enroll for the medical treatment program of Hepatitis C.
"Demand from patients was relatively lower in 2018, compared to the augmented capacity of the program. If only 5 centers complied with very high qualitative requirements of our international partners in 2015, their number increased to 30 in 2018. Hence, we could admit much higher number of patients. 23 000 individuals knew that they were infected with Hepatitis C, though did not enroll for the program for some reason. As of today, 30 000 individuals are aware. I always try to adhere to the Code of Medical Doctors and one of its rules states that if a doctor explains something to a patient, but the latter still does not do it accordingly, patient should never get blamed. It only means that the doctor failed to explain. In this particular care, the same logic applies. I do not blame these people. I simply ask them once again to use this opportunity" added the Former Minister of Health of Georgia.

According to David Sergeenko, nation-wide stock of medication was well balanced to the precision of a vial or even a pill.
"Information was spread by people of some political agenda, claiming that this medication was sold in shadow and a lot of investigation and control agencies scrutinized and inspected literally everything in a very diligent manner throughout 2018 right after this news. Nation-wide stock of medication was well balanced to the precision of one vial, even one pill" concluded David Sergeenko.