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Medical Treatment of the Female Prisoners’ Gender-Specific Diseases Is not Effective


Natia Gogolashvili

Human Rights Center prepared constitutional lawsuit, which argues constitutionality of the Edict # 55 of the Minister of Corrections of Georgia issued on April 10, 2014, which regulates placement of the accused/convicted people in a public hospital, jail hospital and the center for the treatment and rehabilitation of people with tuberculosis.

The edict is the only legal act, which regulates scheduled medical service for the accused/convicted patients. In accordance to the edict, the patients receive their number in the queue and they are taken to the medical institution/center according to their numerical order in the medical program. 

It is noteworthy that only patients within planned health-care get medical assistance through digital wait list. Emergency cases do not wait for the line. The digital wait lists of the Eastern and Western Georgia are separate and managed independently. The referrals for inpatients and outpatients are separately managed as well. 

“The number in the queue is determined according to medical diagnosis, outpatient and inpatient services and is processed electronically. At the same time, considering the state of the patient’s health conditions the form of medical intervention may be changed,” the head of the legal department at the Ministry of Corrections Aleksandre Darakhvelidze clarified.

Lawyer of Human Rights Center Tamar Avaliani said the regulated mechanism raises concern about constitutionality of the edict, because the women and men are not differentiated in the paragraphs as patients with gender-specific needs. Consequently the needs of the women and specific approach to their health problems are absolutely ignored when accused and convicted women are taken to hospitals for the planned or emergency healthcare. 

“Like male prisoners, female prisoners are also registered in the digital wait list of the medical department of the Ministry of Corrections. Often, patients have to wait for the surgery for months, and it aggravates their health conditions and patients are taken to the hospital immediately. It should be noted that if female patient’s turn comes when she has period, the patient is not taken to surgery and needs to get re-registered in the wait list. The number of female prisoners is significantly low than male prisoners. Consequently, they have to wait for their turn longer than men that places women in unequal conditions in comparison to men,” Tamar Avaliani said.

The 2016 report of the Public Defender of Georgia states that the Medical Department of the Ministry of Corrections of Georgia determines the sequential order of the wait list according to the territorial principle, medical indications and inpatient/outpatient medical treatment. When assigning a number to a patient on the wait list, individual needs of a particular patient are not taken into account; the sequential order does not depend on clinical factors but instead on the factors such as the number patients on the wait list and the capacity of medical establishments. In the Parliamentary Report of 2015, the Public Defender recommended to the Ministry of Corrections of Georgia, for improving the medical referral system, to differentiate the digital wait list based on the acute and chronic nature of diseases, progress dynamics of diseases, the effect of these factors on the health condition of a patient and other factors. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Corrections failed to follow these recommendations made by the Public Defender of Georgia.

“The Department does not take into account such cases where the health condition of a patient on the wait list is gradually deteriorating but not to such a degree as to qualify for emergency medical treatment. It should be also pointed out that some diseases progress rapidly and in life threatening situations, medical service could be delayed,” the Public Defender’s 2016 report reads.

HRC lawyer Tamar Avaliani said, there are cases when health conditions of the female prisoners, who are waiting their turn in the digital wait list, are aggravating. “In January-February of 2015, 10 female prisoners had their right to healthcare violated due to delayed digital wait list. We should mention case of convicted S.M, who has polyps on the womb. Her request on surgical operation was submitted to the medical department on August 11, 2014, though on the monitoring day she still had not received answer to her request,” Tamar Avaliani said. 

Representatives of the Ministry of Corrections state there were no cases when health conditions of accused and convicted women aggravated while they were waiting for their turn in the digital wait list. 

HRC lawyer said until the Constitutional Court of Georgia made decision about admissibility of the lawsuit, the amendments were introduced into the Edict # 55 of the Minister of Corrections. Consequently, in accordance to the legislation, the Constitutional Court of Georgia stopped consideration of the lawsuit. However, Tamar Avaliani said the amendments had technical character and they do not make substantial changes in terms of digital wait list. The lawyer said they are working on the new constitutional lawsuit, which will be lodged to the Constitutional Court in near future.

The article was prepared in the frame of the project - Monitoring Conditions of Juvenile and Female Prisoners in Georgian Penitentiary”, which is implemented by Human Rights Center with the Bulgarian Development Aid. The views in the article does not necessarily express the views of the donor and it is responsible for the content of the article. 

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