United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Mobile Health Services for Refugees – Hopefully, They Are Not Abandoned
16 December, 2010
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Mobile Health Services for Refugees – Hopefully, They Are Not Abandoned

A Shida Qartli Mobile group of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) works under the complicated conditions in one of the most difficult regions, because Shida Qartly has survived the hardest days of the war. Some ill-treated refugees have returned to their homes while many still remain in settlements for refugees, also located in Shida Qartli. The mobile group, crewed with two gynecologists, two ultrasound specialists, two reproductive specialists, two social workers and a driver are at the service of local

residents. This year their efforts are financed by the Humanitarian Division of UNFPA.  They visit the refugees’ settlements and villages in turn and conduct free examinations and consultation services. Patients already know them and trust them. 
The current project is already at its end and the last visit is scheduled to the village of Shindisi of Gori Region. Women are queued up in the Shindisi ambulatory. Free examinations started from the morning. Although it’s only 12 o’clock now, about 20 women are already gathered in the corridor of the ambulatory.
“There are so many people willing to be examined that I have to receive them all day long. Their need is urgent. Free examination is a relief for them as most of the families cannot afford to pay even 15 lari for an ultrasound check-up. It’s important that they don’t have to travel to some other place and they can be examined here, in the village”, says ambulatory doctor Asmat Garsevanichvili, who is helping the mobile group.        
Reception of patients begins and the first patient visits gynecologist Eka Sukhishvili. The visitors are of various ages. 24-year-old Tamar Mindiashvili is examined for the second time.
“I visited them some months ago for an ultra sound scanning. Today I’m visiting a gynecologist for some consultations. This is a very important and useful service for me and it’s free. The villagers and the refugees, in particular, cannot afford to pay even little sums. I know many people receive some type of medical care from the mobile group and in my opinion it will be good if the project is prolonged”, Tamar Mindiashvili says.
After the first patient leaves, we have an opportunity to talk to Eka Sukhishvili for a while. The gynecologist says that the main problem is lack of information which is the reason for different diseases.
“During past ten years the number of abortions reached an extremely high figure. 30-40 abortions will obviously destroy any woman’s health. The reason is that they know nothing about contraceptives and family planning. However, after our involvement the situation has improved and abortions are not used as frequently as earlier”, Eka Sukhishvili stated.
She added that in some cases a patient knows nothing about the disease she has. After the check-up and proper diagnosis they undergo proper treatment.
“When a course of treatment is finished they visit us and we re-examine them once again to see the results of treatment. All this is of utmost importance for those who have no ambulatory care service nearby. We visit different settlements in the villages of Khurvaleti, Karaleti, Skra, etc. where they have no similar mobile service. We invite local residents and refugees for check-ups. As they have free means of transportation, it’s not difficult for them to visit us”, Eka Sukhishvili added.
“Social workers act as para-psychologists for the patients and, in particular, for the refugees. People, who were forced to leave their homes, need their support in order to feel that they are not abandoned. We have close relationship with them and we even bear the responsibility of psychologists”, Eka Sukhishvili said.
One of her patient says Eka discovered that she had a rather serious problem.
“I was examined some time ago though they said nothing about my problem. This time I was told that I need medical treatment”, a 32-year-old woman says.
The Shida Qartli Mobile group of UNFPA, its gynecologists, ultra sound and reproductive specialists and social workers have the busiest working days.
The group started operating as soon as the Russian-Georgian war was over. The doctors remember that in those days they offered medical help to the local residents while Russian soldiers were at a distance of several hundred meters.
During the war the local population faced not only bullets and bombs but sexual violence as well. As Vasil Betlemidze, the group coordinator recalls, local women and refugees refuse to speak about such issues and do not wish to confess that they became the victims of sexual abuse.
The group has a lot to do to in other directions as well. Only this year the group made 78 visits to the settlements and examined 2,500 women and handed them gynecological mirrors, contraceptives, tests, pamphlets and other useful material.
“We started our activity in a township of camps where we examined our patients. Nowadays we visit refugees’ settlements. The Situation has improved. Whereas, taking into account the social, psychological and financial conditions of the refugees in post-conflict regions, I feel the project should be prolonged for some years”, Vasil Betlemidze says.

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