Georgian NGOs Call for International Cooperation in Blood Banking and Health Reform in the Caucasus

U.S. Contacts:

Marianne H. Clark, U.K. School of Public Health
(phone/Lexington, Kentucky) 859-268-2321
e-mail: mclar00@yahoo.com

Jeffrey K. Silverman, U.K. Graduate Studies in
Education/International Diplomacy & Law
e-mail: kaspi27@yahoo.com

Georgian Contacts:

Margarita Sarishvili, M.D.
(phone/Tbilisi, Georgia) 011 995 32 52-52-44
e-mail: lyalya_sari@yahoo.com

Marina Beriashvili, Ph.D., Director,
Women's Employment Innovative Center
(phone/Tbilisi, Georgia) (995 32) 38 77 10
e-mail: mariber21@yahoo.com

Hospital Abkhazeti
(phone/Tbilisi, Georgia) 8-10 99522 934836
e-mail: gkarchaw@borjomi.com.ge

Statement of Problem

There is currently a collaborative effort to secure funding for several participatory medical programs in the Caucasus. The objective is to ensure program sustainability for several non-governmental organizations. Other program outcomes include increasing political, social, and economic stability in this strategically located part of the world. Reliable and safe blood supplies are becoming out of reach for many citizens of Georgia. Like many other countries in the world those at the greatest risk are the poorest segment of society who are often political outcasts, whether they are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) or refugees fleeing from cross border conflicts. There are approximately 400,000 refugees and IDPs from internal conflicts in the regions of Abkhazia, Ossetia, including more recent refugee flows from the killing fields of the Chechen Republic into Georgia. These people live in dire conditions and have lost hope because of a lack of normal habitation, acute unemployment that is directly related to economic dislocation and political instability. Health has also suffered. The number of people suffering from hepatitis is estimated to be between 12-15% in Georgia. The blood supply is reaching crisis proportions, both in terms of supply and safety. Blood safety is an ethical imperative for governments and citizens alike. This was the preliminary conclusion of an urgent fact-finding team who conducted a rapid
health appraisal in March 2001. Although the fact finding and efforts to date have been to bolster and revitalize the Georgian blood banking system, the ultimate goal is to extend the effort to the neighboring countries of Armenia and Azerbaijan who also have conflict related public health problems. The program strives to achieve these goals in a manner
that is not too closely aligned with political agendas and is free from corruption; these efforts should be established in a manner that is transparent and based on an international standard of nonprofit.

Collaboration:

Members of the Georgian NGO "Adjustus Sanguinis" have called for international collaboration in order to meet these needs. A partnership is being developed with two U.S. institutions of higher education that have a mission of research and service. The University of Kentucky School of Public Health is coordinating these efforts. The Pikeville School of Osteopathic Medicine and the Madisonville Kentucky Hospital have been contacted for collaboration in the training of
blood banking and community health technicians, both in modern methods of blood banking and participatory community outreach. These activities will be coordinated with the Georgian NGO "Women's Employment
Innovative Center." The problem has been presented at the annual meeting of the Kentucky Association of Blood Banks. During this meeting both the KABB and a representative of the American Association of Blood
Banks expressed their willingness to work in reviewing and advising the project's initiatives and suggesting
possible funding sources and potential partners. The U.K. School of Journalism and Telecommunications has
expressed interest in collaboration that would involve a computerized donor tracking system. 

Last updated:   May 2001


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