Private Health Care Gives Georgians Improved Services
An IFC loan is supporting the construction of outpatient clinics and the renovation of two hospitals in Tbilisi. © Evex
Tatiana Megrelishvili was 33 years old when she discovered that an autoimmune disorder left her with life-threatening liver cirrhosis. Without a liver transplant, she would live no longer than 12 months. But she faced a daunting challenge: the procedure had never been performed in Georgia.
“I accepted my fate and assumed I would die,” said Megrelishvili, a librarian in Batumi, a port city in Georgia.
Her life was saved by a chain of hospitals backed by IFC—Evex Medical Corporation, Georgia’s largest private health-care services company. During the past decade, Evex has steadily developed its network to serve Georgians such as Megrelishvili, who would not otherwise have options for care. It has also systematically sought to introduce sophisticated medical services that previously were unavailable in Georgia.
Seeing that her family was unable to pay their share of the transplant operation—estimated at $200,000—Evex agreed to fully fund it. Vakhtang Megrelishvili, her 24-year-old brother, was the liver donor. “Helping Tatiana meant that I was giving life not only to my sister, but to her child and to my parents as well,” he said.
IFC supported Evex’s efforts with a $25 million loan made in 2016. The funds will be used to construct outpatient referral clinics. Such facilities control costs by moving diagnostic appointments away from more expensive hospital settings. Practitioners at these clinics also have the resources to perform simple procedures, which also cuts back on costly hospital visits. Evex’s plan to expand outpatient clinics is one promising strategy to revamp and strengthen the nation’s health-care infrastructure while serving larger numbers of citizens.
Georgia’s relatively new social insurance system is paving the way for further progress. The system, introduced in 2013, covers 100 percent of the country’s 3.7 million residents, whether the provider is private or public. The private sector provides about 90 percent of health services in Georgia. Under this model, patients pay between zero and 30 percent of the charges for their treatments; the government reimburses the remainder. Georgia spends 9 percent of its gross domestic product on health-care services, a high share for a developing country.
Health Care for Future Generations
In addition to the expansion of the outpatient clinic network, IFC’s investment in Evex is making it possible for the company to renovate two large hospitals in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi. Those hospitals will then be able to offer new technology and services.
Continuous improvement in medical services in Georgia remains a top priority for the country. Our investment is part of IFC’s larger effort to support economic development in Georgia, which became an IFC member in 1995. Since then, IFC has provided more than $1.2 billion in long-term financing, of which $436 million was mobilized from partners. These investments covered more than 50 projects in sectors including financial services, agribusiness, manufacturing, and infrastructure. In addition, IFC has supported around $315 million in trade through our trade finance program, and implemented a number of advisory projects focused on developing the private sector.
To learn more about IFC’s work in health, visit www.ifc.org/health.
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Published in March 2017