Meetings with Doctors in Western Georgia

1 Jul, 2019

Information meetings on introducing the practice of pain management were held in western Georgia on June 24-27 with the participation of doctors of the primary health care system, rural doctors and oncologists. Similar meetings were held earlier with over 100 doctors in Shida Kartli and Kvemo Kartli regions.

The Batumi and Kutaisi meetings were organized with the support of Evex Medical Corporation and the Lanchkhuti meeting was held in cooperation with the social agency and the local municipality.

The meetings aimed at raising doctors’ qualification in the issues of pain and symptom management in palliative care.

“We finished our meetings in western Georgia with meetings with doctors from Kutaisi and Lanchkhuti. We talked to people who understand that it is important to maintain the quality of the patient’s life and dignity beyond treatment. Rural doctors are especially close to patients. The meeting held in Lanchkhuti was just attended by rural doctors. It is clear from their stories and examples that the suffering of each family is their own pain. I would like to thank them for such interest and readiness to get the latest information and to ensure that Georgia no longer has patients suffering from pain, like all the civilized countries of the world, where abandoning pain patients is considered “torture in health care,” says Nino Mirzikashvili, project manager.

The participants of the meetings were selected according to their contacts with patients affected by chronic and incurable diseases. A number of diseases, among them the final stage of oncological diseases, complications of diabetes mellitus, neurological disorders and so on are frequently accompanied by pain.

“Pain identification and recognition is the first step in the process of symptom management that is a doctor’s obligation. Neglecting the issue of pain and rejecting painkillers, the incorrect widespread perception of opioid dependence, faulty legislation and lack of knowledge among doctors about pain management issues frequently lead to abandoning patients with endurable pain,” Nino Kiknadze of OSGF’s public health program.

According to the statistical data of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, 47,822 people died in Georgia in 2017. About 20,000 of them suffered from moderate to severe pain which can be killed by opioids, like morphine.

During the same year, only 3,000 terminally ill patients had access to morphine.

Over 80% of patients suffering from severe pain have no access to painkillers.

“Current approach towards a patient’s pain makes a patient endure pain. It results in a decreased quality of life; a patient fails to continue his/her routine activities and is completely distanced from family members and precious moments of life. Endurable pain causes depression and may lead to extreme actions, like suicide. We all – experts, doctors, legislators, and society – are equally responsible in this situation. Frequently, doctors refrain from prescribing strong painkillers, like morphine. Patients, as well as their family members,  have no information about their rights, about what they can demand; they are affected by a widespread stereotype about dependence on morphine and similar medications. In reality, correct pain management cannot cause dependence. Just, therefore, we are beginning active work with doctors to help them manage the process correctly,” says Pati Dzotsenidze.

The meetings are being held within in the framework of the project “Put Yourself in My Shoes to Feel my Suffering” implemented by Human Rights Research Center with the support of the Open Society Georgia Foundation.

The meetings are based on a guideline “Pain and Symptom Management in Palliative Care.”