Speeches & Statements

President Saakashvili meets healthcare system representatives

Welcome everyone!

First of all I would like to thank all of you for coming here. I know you are very busy but it was extremely important to meet with you, whose failed representative I am.

I'm from the family of doctors and I am one of those rare exceptions who did not pursue this career. However this does not mean that I'm not aware of your problems because your job and, accordingly, your problems are important to every citizen of Georgia.

First of all I would like to thank each of you. I would like to thank the emergency service doctors who during the recent uprising did not get bewildered, were very operational and displayed amazing humanism and determination. As a result of their efforts no one died and further complications were avoided.

I would like to say once again that it is very unpleasant when the government has to use force against its people, even against its one part. I would like everyone to know that it was extremely difficult for me and for every person who rules this country. I would like everyone to know that each baton hit on our citizens was also a hit on me and the tear-gas that the police used made me cry as well.

Dear brothers and sisters! The government has its own responsibilities and when it comes to executing these responsibilities they have no way out but to execute it because an alternative to this decision is chaos and civil confrontation.

Georgia has already experienced that and my major goal is not to let the country go back to those years.

I'm every Georgian's president and also the president of those people who don't like tents.

I would like everyone to know that I have a responsibility towards each of them, and towards our country. I remember very well what was happening here. I remember Professor Bokhua, who after having operated on a badly wounded man was killed in front of his colleagues.

I remember very well my friend, a surgeon, whom the Mkhedrioni armed force members broke fingers with a hammer just because they did not like how he performed the operation. I will do everything to never return to those years, I give you my word. We must never let it happen.

I count on your understanding and the support to the state's position. If we want to maintain our statehood and pace of development a state should act this way and it does not matter who is a president. The state should act this way under Saakashvili and under anyone else hundred years later.

The second issue is what is happening in Abkhazia these days. The day before yesterday hundreds of tanks and military hardware were deployed in Abkhazia. Two hundred troops, who are not part of peacekeepers, landed in Ochamchire yesterday. The Psou border was also crossed by dozens of ethnic Chechens armed to the teeth. They were initially deployed in Gagra and now they are deployed in Ochamchire.

I think that certain government force in the Russian Federation are acting according to the principle written in the textbook - initially imitate a riot in the country and then deploy armed forces.

We had this situation in 1921. I would like to remind you what was happening that year. That was the year when the communist party was legitimized. The government gave up, it was not going to hold elections, it was going to topple the government and come to power. Then it was followed by an imitation of a riot in Borchalo and then the 11th army occupied Tbilisi.

Now it happened the opposite way, the imitation of a riot in Tbilisi and deploying troops in Abkhazia, because Abkhazia is much more important for Russia.

They also know that if they cut Abkhazia from Georgia, Georgia, as a full-fledged independent state would seize to exist. Not a single government would allow this.

If you have noticed, we maintain composure, because we have resources to give answers. Threat is knocking at our door and has stepped over the threshold with one foot.

We are working with the international community and we have invited the ambassadors to discuss this issue. Georgia's permanent representative to UN is actively working to make this issue known to everyone.

Today we have the documented evidence, both photo and video, about what is happening. Georgia in 1921 and Georgia in 2007 are absolutely different. It is a country with a united, experienced society and state resources, determined state apparatus and political leadership and serious international mechanisms.

Although, I would like to say that serious mechanisms and great sum of money are being used against Georgian in the international community. The key is to be well. If we are well we will repulse every attack, and will protect and develop our country.

While speaking about healthcare system we should single out two issues.

One thing is to have the healthcare system developed, have high salaries and make their workers feel that they are valuable and the other thing is that people could afford their services.

As far as our medical people are concerned, we have highly qualified doctors whom we can call real heroes without any exaggeration.

Several days ago we hospitalized here a reservist, 21 years old medical university student, who got wounded during the training. The doctors deemed he would not survive. However after an eight-hour operation the surgeons did a heroic act and saved him. Although the rehabilitation takes a long time the boy is already able to stay on his feet.

When I visited him in the reanimation unit the critical situation had been over two days ago and I was amazed. This incident would have been a total catastrophe and tragedy for any family but his family acted in a very calm and descent way. The boy was very much mobilized himself. He was calming us down himself. Nika Kipshidze knows how I was worrying about this boy, I was calling once an hour during 48 hours to learn how he was doing.

Many operations that are performed in Georgia can't be performed even in many developed countries. Georgians have a flair for being a doctor. Major medical centers in Moscow have been established by Georgians. Even today, the most prominent doctors are Georgians.

It was always this way during the Soviet time, people would go there from Georgia to undergo treatment. At that time they could afford it. But the best doctors were Georgians.

Look how many Georgians have shown their worth regardless of many barriers, which they had to overcome but regardless of this they became highly qualified doctors. This is the privilege of the nations with considerable culture. These two talents - medical and military, require great civilization, and both talents we have in our bloods.

The government should help utilize both talents.

We are privatizing hospitals, and there are talks that this is not necessary. It should be mentioned that most of the hospitals are already privatized.

There are several clinics in every hospital and each of them has their own drug shops. But we should achieve the main thing during this privatization process - we must not allow monopolization and we must achieve high quality. Not a single hospital will be closed down until a new one is built and many of the medical people who will be retained will be from these old hospitals. As far as retraining and certification are concerned it should be said that the system that exists today is extremely complicated. Many things are not clear, predictable, transparent and involves constant risk and threat.

I instructed a new healthcare minister to simplify the system as much as possible and that apply this system only when it is necessary. In many cases it may not be necessary to use this system.

We have built new hospitals that equal to the Europe ones. The Kutaisi hospital may serve as a vivid example of this and every specialist admits this.

When everyone was escaping from Georgia, Mr. Pridon Todua imported the medical equipment and installed in his medical center.

We are renovating the Republican Hospital. The hospitals in Zugdidi and Gori that were built under my supervision are high level centers.

This is very important. However let's see how most of the hospitals look like: you enter the hospital that has paid parking areas. I have nothing opposite against the men standing there but the parking areas belong to their bosses. Georgia is the only place where one has to "call" the elevator - elevator take me to the eighth floor! Then a more authoritative doctor might call the elevator from downstairs and the elevator will go on the sixth floor. What is worse, one has to pay money for this. This is nonsense. I don't like the campaign launched on TVs. There was also a health ministry's program where doctors were treated as if in 1937. Such issues are not so easily decided, this is nonsense, there are flaws of course. We should not make circus out of it. We have to elaborate on these issues in order not to make them happen again.

We are talking a lot about who are most vulnerable and poor people in Georgia. The program has been working effectively in many directions. Although a 62 year old Dali Javakhishvili was left behind this program. She doesn't have anything and is dying with hunger. She does not receive assistance through this program just because a social agent who came to her was told by her neighbors that sometimes her niece comes to see her and brings bread to her. A woman whom someone might give bread twice a week is not vulnerable and should not benefit from this program?

In the Nadzaladevi district there lives a 75 year old woman Margarita Loria, who was sending letters to us for almost a year. Until I did not receive one of those letters and did not have seven resolutions put on it, no one paid any attention to her. Without our intervention no one would have operated this woman, who had an emergency situation.

There exist many similar cases. That's why it doesn't matter how good intentions we are having, until such people do exist we can't consider that the social justice has triumphed, because big triumphs require huge resources and great development.

There are many other issues that have to be addressed in a proper manner. As you know we announced rigorous fight against criminals.

Let's say that many people, whom I really respect, joined the rally, but one part of those people who was fighting with the police were the ones who for the last several years have had problems with the police, as the police are actively fighting with drug edicts, thieves, extorters, district authorities, corrupted people, etc.

Organized crime and street criminals existed until thieves-in-law existed in Georgia.

Then we claimed that fight against any criminal case has to be equally rigorous as the bible reads thief is a thief, it does not matter what he has stolen.

Nowadays thieves-in-law do not exist, I think that the number of violent crimes has decreased and now we have to think how to treat nonviolent criminals.

These people need social rehabilitation.

Prison is the worst place where people can get depraved. That's why I demand to declare amnesty for the big part of prisoners who committed a nonviolent crime or are sentenced for negligence.

There are people who are sentenced for stealing a hen or for breaking a car mirror.

We can give these people another chance. However criminals, murderers, policemen attackers and especially corrupted officials must not have a feeling that they are having a chance.

If they again have a perspective, the country will be totally done. If these people don't exist it is possible to rectify nonviolent criminals. That's why we on the one hand plan to continue fight against criminal but on the other hand be flexible towards those people whose families can't afford to hire a normal attorney to defend them.

Especially I would like to note that the main achievement of the police is that those bustards, who favor disturbances in Georgia, couldn't bribe and control anyone and lure anyone into their side against Georgia; I mean the interests of oligarchs and foreign countries.

No one could manage to do this and will never manage in the future because this is a very healthy organism.

This is all I wanted to say.

I think that we have to make lots of other changes, our course should remain the same, but changes have to be made much more rapidly.

There are many things that have to be improved and enhanced.

We know this and we are not going to retreat. We should continue working with a rapid speed.

Thank you very much.

Press Office
of the President of Georgia

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