A conference titled ”Mental health and conflict in Georgia: turning research into practice” will be held on September 12, 2013 at the Sheraton Metekhi Palace, Tbilisi.
The conference will present findings from the largest research project so far undertaken in Georgia on mental health among internally displaced persons and those who have returned to their permanent residence areas. The research was carried out by Curatio International Foundation, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Global Imitative on Psychiatry – Tbilisi. Conference participants and delegates will be from governmental institutions, donor agencies, embassies, civil society organisations, and academia.
‘We believe that the conference will provide important stimulus to addressing the neglected issue of mental health among the conflict–affected populations of Georgia.’-Ivditi Chikovani, CIF Program Manager says.
Article published on International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health ISSN 1660-4601
by Bayard Roberts, Ivdity Chikovani, Nino Makhashvili, Vikram Patel and Martin McKee
There is very little evidence globally on tobacco use and nicotine dependence among civilian populations affected by armed conflict, despite key vulnerability factors related to elevated mental disorders and socio-economic stressors.
The study aim was to describe patterns of smoking and nicotine dependence among conflict-affected civilian men in the Republic of Georgia and associations with mental disorders.
As research in populations free from conflict has shown that greater tobacco use and nicotine dependence are associated with both post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and common mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and alcohol use, it might be expected that those exposed to conflict may be more vulnerable to heightened tobacco use. Indeed, there is increasing concern over chronic diseases among conflict-affected populations, including tobacco-related diseases. Yet despite this potential vulnerability for heightened tobacco use, there are very few studies on tobacco use among conflict-affected civilian populations and they are generally characterized by small sample sizes and limited analysis, with only a few examining associations between tobacco use and mental disorders or trauma exposure. Identified papers include those addressing: smoking patterns of 989 Kurdish youth in Iraq; antismoking messages and current cigarette smoking status among 1,122 youth in Somaliland; current smoking and smoking cessation rates among 740 elderly people (including refugees) in Beirut, Lebanon; variances in smoking rates between 32 adolescent IDPs with 528 non-IDPs adolescents in Belgrade, Serbia; links between subjective threat of armed conflict and psychosocial outcomes (including cigarette smoking) among 24,935 conflict-affected Israeli and Palestinian youth; tobacco use among 194 immigrant and refugee youth in British Columbia, Canada; and smoking patterns, nicotine dependence and correlations with PTSD among 66 Bosnian refugees in a primary care setting in the United States.
Better understanding of patterns and determinants of smoking is a first step in strengthening tobacco control, tackling tobacco use and its effects and thus of improving the long-term health of conflict-affected populations. This paper takes advantage of data collected as part of a broader study on mental health among conflict-affected populations in Georgia to examine smoking and nicotine dependence among conflict-affected civilian men in the Republic of Georgia.
See the full article.
Georgia is among the countries with low HIV/AIDS prevalence but high potential for developing a widespread epidemic. From the early stage of HIV epidemic in Georgia injecting drug use was the major mode of transmission. However, for the last two years heterosexual transmission became prevailing route for HIV spread.
Current study represent the subsequent wave of Bio-Behavioral Surveys (Bio-BSS) undertaken in Georgia among People Who Inject Drugs (PWIDs) since 2002. Objective of Bio-BSS was to measure prevalence of HIV among PWIDs, provide measurements of key HIV risk behaviors and generate evidence for advocacy and policy-making. The study was implemented within the GFATM-funded project “Generate evidence base on progress in behavior modification among MARPs andeffectiveness of preventive interventions, to inform policies and practice” by Curatio International Foundation (CIF), Public Union Bemoni and the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health.
See full version of the study report.
HIV testing is an important preventive measure to avoid the HIV epidemics spread. Along with other measures implemented with the Government and donor organizations support in Georgia HIV testing is offered to the representatives of high-risk groups, including PWIDs. Although the level of awareness of this risk-group about the availability of counseling and testing services is satisfactory, the utilization of these services is low. This survey aimed at investigating factors promoting or hampering utilization of HIV testing services among PWIDs.
The qualitative survey among PWIDs was conducted in 2012 in six big cities of Georgia (Tbilisi, Batumi, Kutaisi, Zugdidi, Telavi, Gori) in parallel with the Bio-Behavioral Surveillance Survey. The survey applied in-depth interviews technique. In total, 56 respondents participated in the qualitative survey, 12 of which were females. Anonymity was ensured for the study participants. The study protocol and the questionnaire were approved by the Ethics Committee of the HIV/AIDS Patients Support Foundation. The fear of diagnosis is one of the leading barriers to HIV testing. This psychological barrier is supported by a deeply rooted stereotype that a positive HIV test result means a death sentence for the patient and that HIV infection is a disease which is dangerous for the patient’s social contacts. The fear of diagnosis is closely connected with stigma that exists in the society in relation with HIV positive / AIDS affected individuals. The survey revealed that stigma associated with drug users, especially female drug users, is a major impeding factor for undertaking HIV testing. By avoiding HIV testing drug users are, in fact, trying to keep themselves away from acquiring the double label of an “AIDS patient” and a “drug addict” (double stigma).
Read the full report.
Curatio International Foundation developed the methodological guideline for conducting bio behavioral surveillance surveys. The document presents standarts of undertaking studies and includes sections such as general definition of terms, indicators, analytical tables etc.
The document is available in Georgian.
Health in Times of Transition: Trends in Population Health and Health Policies in CIS countries (“HITT-CIS”) is primarily funded by the European Commission (DG Research – FP7). HITT-CIS is a large scale international study of 10 post-soviet countries that tries to understand long-term trends in population health, social and economic burden of disease, living conditions, patterns of nutrition, habits of alcohol and tobacco consumption, public health policies, access to health care. The overall aim of HITT is to contribute to the improvement of the health of the populations and health care systems CIS countries. Project started in the spring 2009 and will continue until 2013. HITT-CIS research consortium is a partnership of 13 teams from leading universities and research companies from the European Union, the CIS and Canada. CIF participates as an expert partner in the consortium and works in collaboration with the LSHTM.
For further information read the publication.