Georgian-American Cooperation in Elimination of Hepatitis C in Georgia

Archil Gegeshidze
Ambassador of Georgia to the United States

Over the course of more than two decades, Georgia and the United States have become indispensable partners. In the face of significant international and regional challenges, both countries remain committed to this friendship. The United States stands by Georgia in all of our country’s strategic goals. The strategic partnership between our two countries has been exemplary, and it has encouraged the Georgian Government to pursue its ambitious agenda of democratic transformation and development. Moreover, as Georgia’s societal transformation toward Westernization is gaining pace, new avenues for bilateral ties have emerged. 

A spectacular example of this new relationship has been cooperation in elimination of Hepatitis C in Georgia. This project aims to tackle a devastating disease facing not only Georgia, but also many countries in Eastern Europe, Middle East, and the former Soviet space. With American help, Georgia is now at the forefront of dealing with the issue, and the Georgian Government’s efforts to defeat Hepatitis C have advanced in a highly effective way. 

Based on preliminary survey data, an astonishing seven per cent of Georgia’s population was subject to the disease. Georgian and American centers for disease control are now working on a national Hepatitis C study in order to set a baseline epidemiological profile for the National Hepatitis C Elimination Plan.  

According to the National Hepatitis C Elimination Plan, thousands of Georgian citizens will be provided with the innovative medicine that Gilead Sciences, an American pharmaceutical company, invented. The course of treatment is much shorter than alternative therapies, displaying fewer side effects. Most importantly, up to 95 per cent of the infected population can be cured with this particular treatment. By estimates, up to 150,000 Georgians, living with this life-threatening illness will be cured at a pace of 20,000 patients per year. To note, this promising accomplishment in the health care segment has been attained within the frames of a long-standing Georgia-U.S. bilateral cooperation.    

In fact, this ground-breaking public-private partnership has been a result of close cooperation between Georgia’s Ministry of Labour, Health, and Social Affairs, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Gilead Sciences. Most importantly, Georgia will also put in place regulations of infectious disease control to prevent the transmission of various communicable diseases, including creation of a surveillance database. 

The Embassy of Georgia in the United States has been actively facilitating the project from the very emergence of the idea to its initial stages of implementation. The success of the Georgia disease-elimination project has been widely recognized in the United States and the diplomatic corps in Washington. The Center for Strategic and International Studies, a world renowned think tank, even devoted a series of discussions to Georgia’s tremendous success story. 

Georgia’s Hepatitis C Elimination Program is a spectacular example of the positive impact of the Georgian-American partnership in an area beyond its strategic core. As the project is gaining international attention, it is deemed to be a model to be replicated in other countries of the region.