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Rights of cancer patients


Lana Giorgidze

Currently, there are 46 800 cancer patients in Georgia – Association Right to Health reported to the society based on the data provided from the GeoStatistics during the working meeting “Realization of the Right to Health and Access to Medicines for the Cancer Patients” on March 31. Doctors, lawyers, representatives of NGOs and Public Defender’s Office attended the working meeting, which was held in the office and with the support of the Open Society Georgia Foundation.
According to the Association, in 2015, in comparison to previous year, the number of cancer patients has increased 1.8 times. Since 2002, the number has increased 6.6 times. 
Based on the 2015 data, 600 adults (aged in between 0-14) had cancer in Georgia. The number has not changed since then. However, 6 times more adults were diagnosed with cancer for the past 5 years; the figures are rising yearly since 2011.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), average 10 000 000 persons get sick with cancer annually across the world; about 6 000 000 persons die with the same diagnosis every year.

According to the WHO, a person gets sick with cancer mostly during the most optimal age of his/her professional development (45-65).

The president of the Association Right to Health Irma Manjavidze reminded the participants of the positive obligations of the state to regulate the rights of the patients under the law and what problems do the patients encounter during medical treatment and rehabilitation process.

“The problems of the cancer patients are not related only with medical problems that are diagnosing, medical treatment or access to medicines. We have miscarriages in legal regulations too, like determination of the disability status, allocating pension.”

As a result of our preliminary survey, the problems were identified in the state funding and psycho-social rehabilitation process that is related with the disease prevention and identification, diagnosis, medical treatment and post-operational treatment, palliative care. The fewer problems are observed in the treatment process because the patient gets state funding for it. The state is obliged to separate and implement the National Cancer Program. It is profitable because: the funds will be deducted from the universal insurance; with the separate program it will be possible to fund not only some parts of the medical treatment but also disease prevention and diagnosing process that is costly service and not accessible for everybody,” the expert of the Georgian Union of Patients Eka Sanikidze said.

Besides preliminary examination, the Association Right to Health is studying the Right to Health for the Cancer Patients. 

“The survey is focused on: the rights of the patients and their family members in the medical clinics; the practice of foreign countries and Georgia; the accessibility to medicines; the rights of patients in closed facilities – penitentiary establishments, hospitals for psychic care; rights of underage patients; palliative care; rights to euthanasia (review of the case law of the ECtHR); rights of the patients and practice in the Georgian judiciary,” the president of the Association Right to Health Irma Manjavidze said.

The patient, who defeated the cancer, spoke about the funding of medical treatment and necessity of psychologist’s consultation during side-effects.

“Many people do not go for medical examination not because of fear but because they cannot afford it. I started treatment so soon after I was diagnosed with cancer that did not even realize what was happening with me. Preliminary examination is not funded but the state funded my chemotherapy and radio-therapy. After the chemotherapy patients feel so bad that they need consultations with psychologists.

I received funding for chemotherapy medicines but they were not available in all pharmacies or were in the pharmacies of other towns. It is another stress for the patients. There should be common data base, where the information about all medicines will be available. The chemotherapy has side effects; for example, vomiting, weakness, etc whose treatment are not funded from the state and patients have to purchase medicines. It creates problems. Not every person can afford full medical treatment,” the former patient L said.

The expert of the Georgian Union for Patients Eka Sanikidze said ceased labor contracts with the cancer patients are also very significant problem.

“The patients are so incapable to work, that they cannot work full time. So, the employers, instead abolishing the labor contracts, must allow the patient to work part-time or from home, or change the position. If after all these measures the patient fails to implement his/her duties, the company may decide to annul the labor contract. In similar situation, the state shall grant the status of disabled person to the patient and allocate pension because he/she is incapable to work. Unless the pension is allocated, the patient shall get funds for the management of side effects. We do not request that the program will fund everything but some solutions should be found and strict criteria shall be determined,” Eka Sanikidze said. 

In accordance to the February 21, 2013 Resolution # 36 of the Government of Georgia, medical treatment of the cancer patients (including day-time medical service), like chemotherapy, hormonotherapy and laser therapy as well as examinations and medicines related with these procedures (except the onco-hematological services funded under special state program of the healthcare) is funded with 12 000 GEL (annual threshold). The program envisages 20% cost-share from the beneficiary except the patients under the age of 18, whose medical treatment is fully funded.

In accordance to the European Bill of Cancer Patients' Rights, by 2035 the 70% long-term recovery of the cancer patients shall be achieved, the cancer prevention, cancer control and related progress for the patients shall be promoted. 

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