After the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, UNICEF Georgia and Caritas Czech Republic implemented a project aiming to ensure the continuity of maternal and child health services during the pandemic. Even though the project significantly improved the knowledge of primary healthcare (PHC) specialists in the management of children and mothers health, some gaps still needed to be addressed. With a new project financially supported by the USAID, we will work on the improvement of quality of child health services through practice facilitation and expert consultation provided to the PHC practitioners, as well as improve clinical protocols to support hospitals and train hospital staff in their use.
Intervention for Quality Improvement (QI)
In 2021, with the aim to address the needs of children and their mothers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Caritas Czech Republic and UNICEF Georgia conducted online trainings to rural healthcare providers from all 10 regions of Georgia. In parallel, we worked on the design of care standards to be later delivered via telehealth visits, thanks to which mothers and young children will be provided with remote support and consultation by the trained rural healthcare providers. The project also ensured the development and integration of child health and development e-module into a real-time electronic Management Information System (E-MIS) intended as a mainstream tool for strengthening the PHC in Georgia.
To ensure the continuity and quality of maternal and child health services not only at primary but at secondary level, our cooperation with UNICEF continued in 2022, too. In the framework of a new project, the activities will cover two main directions: first, the project mentors will deliver training sessions to the selected facilitators (32 rural doctors) from all over the country who will later provide individual consultation as well as regular online and on-site supportive supervisions in pediatric topics to 1285 rural PHC providers (family doctors/nurses) for seven months. Second, the clinical team of expert-pediatricians will work on the update of the current medical protocols needed to manage, diagnose and prevent COVID-19 in pediatric patients and the management of the multi-systemic inflammatory syndrome caused by the SARS-CoV2 in children. The experts will hold respective trainings for the hospital staff in Tbilisi, Telavi, Marneuli and Rustavi.
As a result of the project, the quality of child health services provided by the rural PHC providers as well as the quality of management of COVID-19 delivered by the pediatric hospital personnel will be improved.
„COVID-19 associated hospitalization rates among children and adolescents rose during late 2020 and 2021 that led to the development of appropriate clinical protocols for children with COVID-19. However, clinical protocols related to the management of COVID cases need to be updated on a regular basis based on accumulated evidence and best practices in other countries. Accordingly, the quality of pediatric medical care should be constantly monitored and improved, especially in the pediatric clinics/pediatric wards located in the regions of Georgia. The staff of hospitals should be trained in the use of the updated protocols“. – says Rusudan Chkhubianishvili, Caritas Czech Republic’s Project Manager.
Our Role in Georgia's Healthcare
Since 2015, Caritas Czech Republic has been supporting the Georgian Government efforts to reform the health care and social systems. Thus, involvement in the USAID/UNICEF-funded project is a part of Caritas Czech Republic's broader contribution to improvement of the country's health care system.
In July 2021, we presented a Unified Electronic Management Information and a 0-6 Child Health and Development surveillance Information Systems to the Ministry of Health of Georgia. These systems will be used nationwide for the increase of the quality of care provided by the primary health care facilities to their patients. Moreover, CCR experts developed 10 clinical practice protocols and are training the doctors and nurses in 16 rural ambulatories of Dusheti and 28 ambulatories of Zugdidi municipalities in their practical application. This project is being implemented within the framework of the Czech Development Agency’s support to the reform of primary healthcare system of Georgia.
In addition to the trainings, the PHC experts are providing coaching and regular supportive supervision to the medical staff in the rural ambulatories of Dusheti and Zugdidi with the aim to engage family physicians in regular medical service quality improvement activities. Those are essential to achieving the aim of improving the health of the population, enhancing patient experiences and outcomes and improving PHC provider capacity to manage the most common non-communicable diseases.
In August 2021, Caritas Czech Republic started piloting a Slovak-made innovative solution Scase that will help Georgia’s primary health care system in measuring different vital signs of the patient, which helps not only to monitor patient´s status, but also to detect some of the non-communicable diseases like hypertension or diabetes. After four months, team of Caritas Czech Republic (CCR) and S-case company from Slovakia successfully concluded the project. It was proven that this device is efficient for primary health care facilities located in rural areas as it increases the productivity of healthcare providers, detects new cases of different non-communicable diseases, and as it enables fast and accurate data-sharing and storage in electronic format.
Furthermore, after the COVID-19 outbreak, CCR rapidly tailored its activities to cope with the pandemic, and with this in mind, conducted online trainings for rural doctors in the management of the mild COVID-19 cases, post-covid complications, and vaccination side effects. Moreover, CCR handed over 50 computers to rural ambulatories in pilot regions to enable family doctors to effectively run their clinical practice.