The Government of Georgia within the scope of socially-oriented budget unprecedentedly expanded, almost doubled, the national health sector investments in 2013. As a result, every citizen of Georgia has become guaranteed with a basic package of Universal Health Care (UHC) services and in 2014 over 80% of beneficiaries expressed satisfaction with the UHC services received.
However, despite the visible success, the state health budget was not able to cover a set of expensive medical interventions that still subjected patients and their families to catastrophic health care expenditures. For example, bone marrow transplantation and/or quality radiation therapy for pediatric oncology patients abroad remained a significant financial barrier for the families. Furthermore, rehabilitative services for children and adults with disabilities continued to remain a substantial financial burden.
The context was further challenged with the findings of UNDP survey that revealed that up to 70% of the households in the country remained under economic and social risks and that one quarter of children were still living under the poverty line.
Mission and Objectives
In view of the above challenges in June 2014 under the aegis of Irakli Garibashvili, the Prime Minister of Georgia the country established a national Solidarity Fund.
The Solidarity Fund of Georgia was launched as a common platform for philanthropy, innovative financing and corporate social responsibility initiatives to support individual patients and the most vulnerable families in need of high-cost life-saving treatment or social assistance.
The Solidarity Fund was established upon consolidation of existing global knowledge in innovative financing mechanisms (UNITAID, Product (Red), Check-out-for-children, etc.) and national and regional solidarity foundations and programmes (e.g. EU, France, Switzerland, Germany).
The Solidarity Fund of Georgia was intended to contribute to the formation of a consolidated and transparent management mechanism of the Civil Society Solidarity, the Corporate Social Resopnsibility (CSR) and the Public and Private Partnerships (PPPs).
The organization is guided by a 3-year Strategic Development Plan that envisages step-wise expansion of its programmes over 2015-2017 period.
- Initially the Fund focuses on supporting children and young people affected by cancer under the age of 22 years. Support includes co-financing diagnostic and treatment interventions abroad that cannot be provided in Georgia (such as stem cell transplantation) as well as co-financing interventions in Georgia beyond the coverage of state health programmes or private insurance companies. The Fund will be also collaborating with the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia (MLHSA) to increase financial affordability of high cost antineoplastic medications (e.g. Mabthera, Herceptin). Finally, for greater sustainability of the oncology programme, the Solidarity Fund in coordination with the MLHSA will support development of stronger cancer management services locally to ensure step-wise introduction of continuum of care and provision of quality diagnostic and treatment services in Georgia.
- At the second stage of its operations the Solidarity Fund will focus on generating additional financial resources for children with disabilities and those affected by rare diseases. Specific objectives include bridging financial gaps in accessibility to diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitation services, ensuring more affordable prices for anti-epileptic medications, etc.
Achievements and Way Forward
- Finally, at the 3rd stage of development the Fund will facilitate launching individual and corporate sponsorship (patronage) programmes for families living under poverty. The latter will include assembling individual and corporate philanthropic assistance to children under the age of 18 years as well as single old age pensioners living in extreme poverty.
During its first year of operations, the Solidarity Fund has already closed financial gaps in diagnostic and treatment services for all children and young people affected by cancer under the age of 22.
As of September 2015, the Fund has mobilized over 3.9 million GEL and supported treatment of 156 children and young people. The number includes 77 beneficiaries who have been supported for high-cost diagnostic and treatment abroad in France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Spain and Turkey.
Over 50 000 employees from 240 public services, 23 private sector companies and 53 students’ organizations have already joined the initiative and ensure regular monthly donations of 270,000 GEL (est. 115,000 USD) or 3.2 million GEL (1.4 million USD) annually.
The Solidarity Fund has set a precedent of institutionalized philanthropy and integrated public-private partnership platform to make a systemic change in lives of people.
The organization is governed by a multi-stakeholders’ Supervisory Board chaired by the Prime Minister of Georgia and represented by Ministers of Finance, Health, Foreign Affairs, Culture and Economy; CEOs of the lead national Banking Institutions; CEOs of the national Business and Bank Associations and international development partners as observers (UN, the World Bank, US and Czech Embassies).
Daily decision-making and operations of the Fund is managed through the Permanent Commission bringing together senior- and mid-level managers from the line ministries, national non-governmental organizations, private sector and international development agencies (observing members).
The Fund is currently consolidating or planning mobilization of micro-philanthropy from the following six main sources:
- Voluntary contributions from monthly wages of public and private employees (1, 2, 5 + GEL)
- Agreed contributions from bank transfers, ATM and other operations (0,05, 0.1 , 0.2+ GEL)
- Solidarity contributions from Airline ticket sales (1, 2, 5 or 10 GEL)
- Contribution from movie/theatre ticket purchases (0.1, 0.2 or 0.5 GEL)
- Solidarity from hotel networks, check-out contribution (1, 2, 5 or 10 GEL), and
- Solidarity contribution from TV, radio or outdoor commercial ads (2, 5 or 10 GEL)
Further expansion of monthly financial forecasts over 400,000 GEL and initiation of international partnership projects will enable the Fund to extend its financial support to children effected by other disabilities.