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Abkhazia faces tuberculosis outbreak

The Gali region of the Republic of Abkhazia is in danger of a tuberculosis epidemic. A Russian field hospital has been set up in the area and is dealing with up to 700 patients a day.

Most of the patients are Georgian, but in a region with no proper healthcare system, nationality does not matter.

An RT film crew was told to wear face-masks at this field hospital as, just one day after opening, nine people have been diagnosed with tuberculosis.

Doctors say the figure makes the situation close to an epidemic.

For many patients the diagnosis came as a surprise. Medics believe it’s the low standard of living that makes the people vulnerable to the disease.

Gali has been in ruins for 15 years, since the Georgian-Abkhazian war. There is no proper health-care system in the region and people don’t have the money to receive it elsewhere.

The area is mainly populated by Georgians, but doctors aren’t concerned about nationality.

“The medical profession doesn’t care about politics. We’re here to help people. We don’t ask for their documents or where they’re from – we try and help anyone who comes here,” said general practitioner Valery Shabanov.

Russian doctors have to operate either in the field, or in the ruins that are left from the local hospital.

The number of patients reaches 700 people each day. Even simple procedures weren’t available in the region before the emergency hospital arrived.

And despite the hard work, the doctors seem to be enjoying their mission.

“Working in such conditions is very difficult and the flow of patients is much higher than we’re used to. But helping them makes me happy because not one of them has left my chair without saying thanks. It’s enough of a reward,” said dentist Gregory Mogilnitsky.

Luckily for young Nika Mania, he got the all-clear in his check for TB. After one of his teeth was taken out, his visit to hospital was, fortunately, over.

But the toothache caused Nika so much pain that he has set himself a goal – to become a dentist.

“I’m going to study in Sukhum. I want to help people like this doctor helped me. It was painful and I’m very thankful the toothache is over. The doctor was very kind to me too,” the young patient said.

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