Tbilisi’s HIV, infectious disease hospital no longer admitting new patients
The Tbilisi Infectious Disease Hospital will no longer admit new HIV and coronavirus patients due to a lack of “vitally important conditions”, such as internal ventilation and the ability to isolate new infected patients.
Outpatient care will continue.
The clinic is run by Tengiz Tsertsvadze, who has become very popular in Georgia thanks to his success in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. By 23 August 1,385 cases had been reported in the country. 17 people have died from the disease, and slightly more than 250 people remain in hospital.
The director general of the National Centre for Disease Control and Public Health, Amiran Gamkrelidze, and the deputy director, Paata Imnadze, have spoken both locally and internationally about Tsertsvadze’s successes.
In fact, all three were invited as guests to the party congress of Georgian Dream, the ruling party, where parliament candidates were put forth.
As such, the announcement of a difficult situation in the hospital came as a completely unexpected surprise for both the government and the rest of society.
However, Tengiz Tsertsvadze has long been stressing the necessity of modernising the hospital, but Aversi, the company which has owned the hospital since 2012, will not allow the building to be renovated.
The situation has worsened to the point that the roof of the main building is leaking and the rooms lack ventilation, which is a gross neglect of the basis conditions necessary for any infectious disease clinic.
In addition, there are not enough isolated rooms to accept new patients.
In June, 2020, the prime minister of Georgia, Giorgi Gakharia, promised to allocate 40 million lari (about 13 million dollars) for the construction or purchase of a new building.
A building was bought, but it would take about a year to renovate it. Tsertsvadze says that working another year in the present conditions would be impossible.
“I haven’t even mentioned the terrible wards, hallways and toilets. It’s important for the ventilation to work, for the oxygen supply system to work, for the CT scanner, that we got a year and a half ago and haven’t even assembled yet because there’s nowhere to put it, to work. I’m not saying what I think would be nice to have. This is all vitally essential”, says Tsertsvadze.
According to him, all of this will cost about 300 thousand lari ($100 million), but the Ministry of Health has refused to help, explaining that there is not enough money in the ministry’s 2020 budget.
Fate of the patients
Minister of Health Ekaterina Tikanadze says that patients with coronavirus will be sent to other hospitals. As for those with HIV, there is as yet no information.
Tikanadze says that Tsertsvadze should have informed the ministry of his decision in writing two months ago. Now the ministry is threatening to fine him because his hospital is not following the current public health plan.
Epidemiological situation of HIV in Georgia
There are 8,376 cases of HIV registered in the research centre: 6,252 men and 2,124 women. The majority of them are between the ages of 29 and 40.
4,340 patients are in stable condition, while 1,705 have died. 5,220 HIV cases are being treated. 590 of those patients are from Abkhazia. 38 are children, 8 of whom are from Abkhazia.
The state pays for their treatment.