07TBILISI2450, PROBLEMS REMAIN IN PRISON HEALTH CARE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2450 2007-10-01 09:53 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO3171
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2450/01 2740953
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 010953Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7783
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 002450 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/24/2017 
TAGS: PHUM PREL GG
SUBJECT: PROBLEMS REMAIN IN PRISON HEALTH CARE 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 724 
     B. TBILISI 1042 
     C. TBILISI 1612 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
 1. (U) Summary:  Health care in Georgian prisons continues 
to be problematic due to overcrowding, lack of professional 
medical staff, and unclear delineation between Ministries of 
Health and Justice over which ministry is responsible for 
medical care.  Despite increased prison capital expenditures 
and the opening of two new wings at existing prisons, 
unsanitary conditions and poor medical care continue to 
contribute to inmates' deaths.  The GoG has identified prison 
improvement as one of its top priorities, but overall efforts 
so far have not been enough to address the problem. End 
Summary. 
 
--------------- 
Who's on First? 
--------------- 
 
2. (U) On August 3, Poloff met with Sandro Urushadze, 
Advisor, Georgian Ministry of Labor, Health and Social 
Services, (MOH), to discuss the delineation of 
responsibilities between the Georgian MOH and the MOJ for 
prison doctors,  and plans for outsourcing prison health 
care.  The MOH and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) share 
responsibility for prison health care.  MOH is the only 
authority to certify doctors and provide professional 
licensing.  MOJ prison doctors receive their salaries from, 
and work for, the MOJ.  Historically there has been much back 
and forth between the two ministries as to how these 
functions are really shared.  Control over prison hospitals 
was transferred from the MOJ to the MOH in 2004-2005 upon the 
recommendation of the Council of Europe; however, there were 
no mechanisms to implement this change.  According to the 
Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), the Joint Reform 
Commission of the MOJ and the MOH which was set up in April 
2006 failed to take any effective corrective measures.  In 
July, the MOJ created a working group whose responsibility 
was the assessment and inventory of the Medical Service 
within the penitentiary system.  Also, in mid-July, President 
Saakashvili created the Interagency Coordination Council 
against torture, inhumane treatment and violation of human 
rights.  Influential MP Giga Bokeria chairs the committee. 
Ostensibly, prison health care would also be discussed in 
this forum.  The Council has met several times, but has yet 
to craft a comprehensive plan. 
 
------------------------ 
The Tonic of Outsourcing 
------------------------ 
 
3. (U) The current plan of the MOH is to outsource prison 
health care by using civilian health care providers. 
Previously, MOJ had its own medical cadre which provided 
health care.  Now the focus will be on outsourcing these 
tasks to civilian health care providers.  Their first step is 
a health care assessment to determine how to best allocate 
resources.  This assessment is being conducted with the 
International Red Cross (ICRC) during September and October 
and involves interviewing 700 prisoners in order to establish 
a methodology to allocate resources. 
 
4. (U) Urushadze envisions that each prison will have its own 
cadre of core staff on site, but some tuberculosis patients 
(TB) and those with serious mental disorders will be 
transferred to Gldani prison, when it opens later this fall. 
The Gldani prison is designed to house 4000 prisoners and 
offer 100-150 hospital beds in its medical unit.  If patients 
require something beyond routine care, they will be 
"outsourced" to a local civilian hospital.  Urushadze added 
that there are doctors who work in other prison systems 
besides MOJ prisons:  Ministry of Internal Affairs (MOIA) and 
Ministry of Defense (MOD) have their own prisons, and own 
medical staff. 
 
------------------------------------- 
The Doctor's In, but is He Qualified? 
------------------------------------ 
 
5. (U) On September 17, Poloff met with the Public Defender's 
Office (PDO) Spokesman Giorgi Giorgadze and Dr. Levan 
Labauri, Patients' Rights Center.  Per Dr. Labauri, health 
care in prison is part of the overall health responsibility 
of the MOH. According to Dr. Labauri, there are 15 or more 
laws on health and patient's rights, and chapters of 
different parts of legislation on health care, but these are 
not observed.  By law, each prison which houses over 100 
inmates should have on its staff a general practitioner, a 
 
TBILISI 00002450  002 OF 003 
 
 
dentist, and a psychiatrist.  Only one of the prisons 
currently meets this criteria.  In the eyes of the PDO, 
prisoners are being discriminated against because these 
provisions are not being observed.  There are conflicting 
laws which deal with the certification of doctors. According 
to Article 37 of the Constitution, doctors are not required 
to be licensed.  Conversely, prison health care providers who 
work for MOIA and MOD work under the rubrique of a Limited 
Company (LTD) arrangement which regulates licensing and 
requirements.  Thus, MOJ health care providers are not 
working under a governing body or legal framework. 


--------------------------- 
More Prisons--A Bitter Pill 
--------------------------- 
 
6. (U) Despite reforms in Georgia's historically problematic 
prison systems, there is little indication that prison health 
care has significantly improved this year.  According to the 
PDO, the GoG focus on building more prisons has not yet 
ameliorated the overcrowding problem, nor has it helped 
resolve other health issues in the system.  Some of the newer 
prisons are already experiencing infrastructure problems, as 
Dr. Labauri stressed.  The OSCE Human Rights Representative 
who works on prison reform issues, echoed that even with new 
prisons, there are lingering structural problems. 
 
7. (U) Two prisons have opened new wings with increased beds 
this year, but this has not solved the overcrowding and 
associated incidence of disease among inmates.  Prison 
mortality is still high, with over 70 deaths this year, most 
attributable to prison conditions according to PDO. The PDO 
questions the findings of the forensic reports for mortality 
cases in prisons.  Of some 90 mortality reports that were 
completed, the PDO examined 35 and found that in 17 cases 
deaths were due to diseases contracted while in prison. 
Incidents of misdiagnosis from prison medical staff in 
treating medical patients are common (ref C), with death 
often attributed to cardiac attack rather than the true 
underlying cause. Instances of TB in prison are high and are 
exacerbated by overcrowding.  The ICRC addresses TB in 
prisons, but their program does not address strain resistant 
types of TB.  The rate of suicides in prison remain about the 
same, but there are no suicide prevention programs or 
psychiatrists to treat them. 
 
8. (U) The current draft of the new Penitentiary code before 
Parliament only cursorily addresses prison health care; the 
PDO has made suggestions to Parliament's Health, Human Rights 
and Legal Committees on how to better incorporate medical 
provisions within the new Code. 
 
9. (U) Dr. Labauri said that the NGO Empathy is getting good 
results in the women and juvenile prisons where they have a 
team of psychiatrists and separate treatment rooms to work 
with patients.  Dr. Labauri attributed much of the success to 
the NGO's leader and the director of the women's prison 
facility. 
 
------------------------------- 
The Magic Elixir--Privatization 
------------------------------- 
 
10. (U) On 17 September, Poloff met with Dato Kelbakiani, 
Head of Social Services, Penitentiary Department, to discuss 
improvements in prison conditions.  According to Kelbakiani, 
prison health care is part of the Georgian unified health 
care system, but has separate coordination channels.  Doctors 
who serve in the prisons are certified in accordance with the 
law on certification for doctors. At each prison, there are 
the mandatory cadre of health providers, dentists and 
psychiatrists. 
 
11. (U) The current plan is to close Ortchala hospital prison 
when Gldani prison opens this fall, unless it is needed for 
overflow.  Kelbakiani mentioned that with the help of 
Norwegian Mission of Rule of Law Advisers to Georgia (NORLAG) 
and Penal Reform International (PRI), that in Rustavi prison 
they have implemented a psychological transition program for 
prisoners who are to be released within the next six months. 
Currently this program reaches 70 percent of the prisoners. 
In Kutaisi prison they have implemented drug and alcohol 
abuse treatments in conjunction with Atlantis programming. 
 
12. (U) When asked, Kelbakiani could not provide statistics 
on the number of prisoners who currently suffer from TB, nor 
could he provide the number of those who suffer from the TB 
resistant strain, but he said, "they are not so many." Per 
Kelbakiani, the plan is to outsource medical care in prisons 
as part of a larger medical privatization health care scheme. 
 Kelbakiani said now they are taking tenders from different 
 
TBILISI 00002450  003 OF 003 
 
 
Georgian insurance establishments for this purpose and will 
make their decision by the end of the year.  He added that 
the government will pick up the tab for inmates' medical 
insurance premiums and that a representative of the insurance 
company would be on site to handle particulars, although he 
did not spell out the plan in detail.  He could not enumerate 
the specifics of the plan nor a timetable for its 
implementation.  When Poloff asked how the new Penitentiary 
Code would affect prison health care, Kelbakiani stated that 
it would not directly affect his programs.  The issue 
historically, according to him, was not legislation but lack 
of resources. He did tell Poloff that there were plans to 
open new prisons in Javakheti and Adjara. 
 
------------------------------------ 
Prison Deaths High, but Rate Falling 
------------------------------------ 
 
13.  (U) On  September 28, Poloff spoke with Givi Mikanadze, 
Deputy Minister, MOJ.  He said that the GoG dedicated 
1,081,000 GEL in 2007 towards prison medical care.  Of the 
1,081,000 GEL, 781,000 GEL was dedicated to purchasing better 
medicines and 300,000 GEL was dedicated to inmate medical 
care at civilian hospitals.  He noted that in the last three 
years there has been much discussion as how to best organize 
health care within the prison system; currently they are 
taking tenders to outsource this service.  While he did say 
that the total number of prisoners has increased, the rate of 
deaths has not increased.  He cited the following statistics: 
 so far in 2007,.038 percent of the prison population has 
died, in comparison with .059 percent last year.  He added 
that MOJ is very transparent about prison mortality and 
publishes these statistics monthly on the ministry's website. 
 
-------- 
Comment 
-------- 
 
14. (C) The delineation of the responsibilities between MOJ 
and MOH continue to be blurred, each side pointing to the 
other when faced with difficult questions about 
responsibilities.  Although the government's plan to ease 
overcrowding was to build more prisons and open Gldani prison 
(ref A,B), overcrowding is still cited as a major issue by 
the PDO, OSCE, and Penal Reform International. 
 
15. (C) Poloff will meet with representatives from Health and 
Human Rights Parliamentary committees to advocate for better 
delineation of health responsibilities between the ministries 
in the penitentiary code draft.  Additionally, post's Human 
Rights Officer will attend future Interagency Coordination 
Council meetings to discern government plans to improve the 
situation. 
TEFFT

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