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Resume: In July 2017, the State Programme for Providing Medicine for Chronic Diseases was launched. The Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs, Davit Sergeenko, stated that 150,000 to 200,000 persons would be beneficiaries of that programme. In 2017-2018, only 35,561 persons have registered to become programme beneficiaries and 32,669 of those registered have benefitted from the programme (for example, visited a pharmacy and obtained medication).

Analysis

The population’s limited access to medication remains one of the biggest challenges for Georgia’s healthcare sector. The population’s expenses on healthcare have been increasing annually which is mostly related to the rising prices of medications. In order to increase people’s access to prescription medication, the State Programme for Providing Medicine for Chronic Diseases was launched on 1 July 2017. As a reminder, the universal state healthcare programme, which was launched in 2013, did not envisage funding or co-funding for medicine.

In 2017, the Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs, Davit Sergeenko, stated that in accordance with the Ministry’s calculations, nearly 150,000 to 200,000 persons would be covered by the programme. A year-and-a-half has passed since the launching of the programme and the number of actual programme beneficiaries is not even close to the figure promised by the Minister.

In accordance with the information provided by the Social Services Agency, some 35,561 persons registered to become beneficiaries of the State Programme for Providing Medicine for Chronic Diseases in 2017-2018. Of that number, 32,669 persons have benefitted from the programme (visited a pharmacy and obtained medication). In 2017, only 13,010 persons were registered to become beneficiaries of the State Programme for Providing Medicine for Chronic Diseases. In 2018, 22,651 new beneficiaries were registered which is largely related to the expansion of the programme.

At the initial phase, the State Programme for Providing Medicine for Chronic Diseases started to cover socially vulnerable citizens with chronic ailments (those whose families’ ranking points were below 100,000). Prescription medications for chronic cardiovascular, lung and thyroid diseases as well as for type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent), comprising a total of 23 different medications, have been funded as part of the programme. Since September 2018, the programme has expanded and started to cover old age pensioners and persons with disabilities. Of note is that socially vulnerable citizens have their medication almost fully funded (co-funding amounts to a maximum of GEL 1). Pensioners and disabled people have partial funding for their medicine and beneficiaries co-pay 50% (in some cases even less) of the medication’s market value. In December 2018, the programme expanded to cover Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. Therefore, the selection of medications has also increased. Since 2019, 40 types of medication have been funded as part of the programme.

A separate matter of discussion is the programme’s budget and its execution. The 2017 budget for the State Programme for Providing Medicine for Chronic Diseases was initially set at GEL 3.36 million whilst actual expenses constituted GEL 2.686 million. In 2018, GEL 10 million was allocated for the programme’s budget. In the first six months of 2018, the programme’s expenses amounted to only GEL 102,000 which constitutes 5% of the six-month adjusted plan and 1% of the annual plan. As a result of the expansion of the programme, expenses increased as well. In accordance with the data of the State Treasury, the actual expenses of the programme were GEL 7,616,866 in 2018. Therefore, nearly GEL 2.383 million was not used up. The 2019 state budget allocates GEL 20 million for the State Programme for Providing Medicine for Chronic Diseases.

Despite expanding the State Programme for Providing Medicine for Chronic Diseases and given the amount of its budget, the 2019 programme is still not intended for the number of people (150,000 to 250,000) which was promised by the Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs.


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