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At the plenary session of the Parliament of Georgia held on 30 July 2013, Pridon Sakvarelidze, MP from the Parliamentary Majority stated that “patients cannot even start the treatment of Hepatitis C with the medications, because just pre-treatment medical examinations cost over 1000 GEL.” According to Sakvarelidze, Hepatitis C represents a serious issue in Georgia. Official data states that there are 200 000 people in Georgia affected by Hepatitis C, but the real number is thought to be 2-3 times higher. The MP acknowledged positive changes made in the prison establishments related to the treatment of the Hepatitis C, he also took positive note of the work of the Ministry of Health to reduce the price of the medications; however, he also emphasized that the root of the problem lies in the high costs of medical examinations, due to which patients cannot even get to the point of treatment with the medications.

FactCheck

decided to check whether or not the medical examination, required for the antiviral therapy of Hepatitis C, indeed costs more than 1000 GEL.

In our inquiry we addressed the Infectious Diseases, AIDS and Clinical Immunology Research Center (IDACIRC), one of the establishments offering qualified examination and therapy of Hepatitis C. The administration of the Center told us that a complete examination, which is required before starting the antiviral (with interferon) therapy, costs approximately 1500 GEL. The costs of examinations in other medical Centers, which offer the examination and therapy for Hepatitis C, are more or less similar to the one noted above. We were also informed by the Center that there are no programs which would offer patients funding for such examinations. This information has been confirmed by the Ministry of Health, stating that the examinations and therapy related to Hepatitis C are extremely expensive and the Government implements no special program financing the pre-treatment examinations. As for the insurance cover of the pre-treatment examination, it varies depending on the insurance packages purchased by a client.

Conclusion

According to Pridon Sakvarelidze, Hepatitis C is a major issue for Georgia, due to large number of people affected and high costs being associated with the therapy. The efforts of the Ministry of Health to reduce the prices of medications are not effective in tackling the issue, as patients cannot even afford the medical examinations, costing more than 1000 GEL, in order to start the therapy with the medications.

In our inquiry we ascertained that the cost of a complete examination in the medical establishments offering examination and therapy of Hepatitis C is approximately 1500 GEL. It is also to be noted, herewith, that the government implements no program to assist patients in covering the abovementioned costs. This fact has been verified by the Ministry of Health, as well as IDACIRC.

Consequently, we rate Pridon Sakvarelidze’s statement “patients cannot even start the treatment of Hepatitis C with the medications, because just pre-treatment medical examinations cost over 1000 GEL,” as TRUE.