On 1 February 2023, the Government of Georgia adopted the Strategy for the Development of Rehabilitation Services (2023–2027). The Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs (MoIDPLHSA) developed the strategy in consultation with rehabilitation experts, government agencies and representatives of the nongovernmental sector, as well as universities, professional associations, and with close technical support from WHO/Europe.
The strategy was formulated based on the results of the Systematic Assessment of Rehabilitation Situation (STARS) in Georgia conducted by specialists from WHO/Europe in 2020/2021.
First unified rehabilitation strategy
The goal of the Strategy for the Development of Rehabilitation Services in Georgia is to improve access to timely, effective, person-centred rehabilitation services that are integrated into all levels of the health care system. Although Georgia had previously made significant international, regional and country-level commitments in the rehabilitation sector, until now there was no unified strategy that clearly defined relevant priorities, objectives and progress indicators.
Over 50 recommendations were presented and discussed by the working group during the consultations associated with developing the strategy. The last meeting took place on 24 June 2022 in Telavi, where the final version of the strategy was discussed. Within the framework of development of the rehabilitation sector in Georgia, the following objectives were identified:
- integrating rehabilitation services into the national health care system
- capacity-building of employees in the rehabilitation sector
- strengthening of rehabilitation services
- improving access to rehabilitation data.
“Georgia has made notable progress in the rehabilitation sector, but it was imperative to establish a comprehensive strategy that could effectively delineate the priorities, goals, and objectives for the development of the rehabilitation sector,” said Mzia Jokhidze, Chief Specialist at the Health Protection Policy Department of the MoIDPLHSA. “This strategy will serve as a framework for assessing the progress made towards achieving the set goals. Without such a strategy, it would have been challenging to identify the gaps in the rehabilitation sector and the appropriate measures required to address them. Consequently, the implementation of a comprehensive strategy would be pivotal in the continued development of the rehabilitation sector in Georgia.”
Rehabilitation needs on the rise
According to the findings of STARS, rehabilitation services are currently not fully integrated into the health care system of Georgia and are mostly available only to persons with disabilities. However, rehabilitation benefits the entire population, not just those with disabilities. Evidence suggests that rehabilitation can reduce functional difficulties associated with different health conditions and improve overall quality of life.
In 2019, almost half of the population of Georgia could have benefited from rehabilitation services, a number that even then was considered an underestimation, as it was linked to noncommunicable conditions, such as musculoskeletal disorders or sensory impairments. The COVID-19 pandemic and increased migration associated with the war in Ukraine have significantly affected Georgia’s rehabilitation needs. In addition, according to the 2014 census, people aged 65 and over comprise 14% of Georgia’s population and can potentially benefit from rehabilitation services. This figure is projected to rise to 25% by 2050.
A unified rehabilitation strategy is essential for the development of a modern and sustainable national rehabilitation system, reducing the burden on health systems and promoting effective cooperation between all interested parties and beneficiaries.
More than 50 field specialists, governmental and nongovernmental organizations, persons with disabilities, representatives of educational programmes and international donors participated in the development of the Strategy for the Development of Rehabilitation Services in Georgia led by the MoIDPLHSA.
The strategy is aligned with Georgia’s current legislation in the rehabilitation field, including the National Health Protection Strategy 2022–2030 and the annual State Program for Social Rehabilitation and Childcare. The strategy’s objectives are also in line with WHO’s standards for rehabilitation services, the WHO European Framework for action to achieve the highest attainable standard of health for persons with disabilities 2022–2030, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and Sustainable Development Goal 3 – ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
Source : WHO