Yes, Georgia is that place, where you had to go once a week to collect your pain medicines, walking through the police station to a small office where pharmacy staff would come to dispense them. As the film depicts, a real contributor to the stigmatization of patients requiring chronic opioid therapy.
But Georgia is making progress, that is not always shown up in the numbers.
- They have a national palliative care association.
- Palliative Care is recognized as an essential goal of the health care sytesm
- They are working to change the laws and policies.
- They have the patronage of the First Lady of Georgia.
- Great support from Hungarian Colleagues.
- Ongoing involvement of the Institute for Palliative Medicine’s International Program (San Diego Hospice) in Education and Drug Availability
- A PPSG International Pain Policy Fellow, Dr Pati Dzotsenidze.
- Two physicians have completed the International Palliative care Fellowship at San Diego Hospice: Drs Tamar Rukhadze and Joseb Abezadze.
Change does not always come easily, but already Georgia is becoming a model for the region with Armenia and other former Soviet Union countries looking to improve palliative care, with Dr Dimitri Kordzaia, participating in these Open Society Funded workshops.
We all need to continue to support our colleagues in their progress. As with the example of Malaysia, the increase in Methadone consumption confirms that it is possible to increase opioid consumption in Georgia!
As Dr Holly Yang concludes: “They’re giving a lot here and I have a lot of hope for Georgia. They’re willing to change their laws and their policies and they’re willing to do the education, so I’m very encouraged because there’s other places where that’s not true.”