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Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs Disregards Public Defender's Proposal

The Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs did not implement the Public Defender’s proposal concerning involvement of persons with neutral identity cards in the hepatitis C program.

The proposal, sent by the Public Defender, stated that populations of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region belonged to especially vulnerable categories, which had to live under occupation, grave social, economic and human rights situation.

The Public Defender believes that persons with neutral identity cards must be involved in the state program for hepatitis C, as, like it was noted in the proposal, the action plan for neutral ID cards says: "The mentioned certificate authorizes recipients to demand all the social benefits enjoyed by Georgian citizens."

According to the reply from the Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs, the main prerequisite for the implementation of the program is safety of medicines; they try to reduce the outflow of medicines from the country and risks of illegal realization.

The Public Defender is aware that the state program for hepatitis C is costly and requires special security measures, though the Minister’s reply does not make it clear what are the risks of giving medicines to persons with neutral identity cards (in contrast with persons with Georgian citizen's identity cards) and why the existing security measures are not enough, including the reception of the first pill in front of a camera, visit to the clinic once a fortnight, recount of the remained drugs in front of a camera and return of an empty box of medicines at the end of each month.

By the Public Defender’s proposal, involvement of persons with neutral identity cards in the state program for hepatitis C and their treatment must be implemented in the same manner as of people with Georgian ID Cards, which, we think, will not create any additional threats to the purposes of the program.

The mentioned approach will contribute to the protection of the right to health of particularly vulnerable categories of persons. It should also be noted that as of November 2015, neutral ID documents were issued for only 278 persons.

The Public Defender still believes that under the conditions when reception of the Georgian citizenship and identity documents are relatively difficult and lengthy than the reception of a neutral ID cards, it must be possible to involve persons with neutral ID cards in the state program for hepatitis C in order to protect the right to health of those living in the occupied territories.

Accordingly, the Public Defender calls on the Government of Georgia, including the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs, to once again consider the mentioned issue and make the kind of decision that will make this important health program available for all vulnerable categories in the country.

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