All agencies of epidemiological supervision in the Akhaltsikhe Municipality are controlled by members of one family
The director of N(N)LE Center for Public Healthcare of the Akhaltsikhe Municipality, Naira Khabuliani, works in several paid positions at the same time. One of her jobs is the position of an epidemiologist at the Clinic of Akhaltsikhe ‘Imedi’. As the head of the non-entrepreneurial (non-commercial) legal entity, she also exercises epidemiological supervision on herself. In addition, Khabuliani worked as an epidemiologist at both fever centers created in Samtskhe-Javakheti at the time of the coronavirus, which was prohibited by law. And the service which exercises epidemiological supervision in the entire region is headed by Naira Khabuliani’s daughter – Nino Zedgenidze is the head of the Samtskhe-Javakheti regional division of the National Center for Disease Control.
Naira Khabuliani has been the head of N(N)LE Center for Public Healthcare of the Akhaltsikhe Municipality for 13 years now, and, in parallel, she has worked as an epidemiologist at the Clinic of Akhaltsikhe ‘Imedi’ LLC and the Abastumani Lung Center LLC for the past three years. In addition, according to her latest asset declaration, Naira Khabuliani carried out paid work in the projects of the Health Research Union and the Tobacco Union.
For the past three years, her daughter, Nino Zedgenidze, has served as the head of the Samtskhe-Javakheti regional division of LEPL L. Sakvarelidze National Center for Disease Control and Public Health of the Ministry of Health. It is through this division that the Ministry of Health exercises supervision on the epidemiological situation in the region. And this regional division regulates the relationship with N(N)LEs centers for public healthcare in the municipalities on contractual basis.
- Naira Khabuliani’s N(N)LE conducts monitoring, across the municipality, on contagious and non-contagious diseases, as well as on the prophylaxis of internal infections in hospitals. The monitoring, naturally, also extends to the Clinic of Akhaltsikhe ‘Imedi, where Khabuliani herself is the person responsible for the epidemiological situation and provides relevant statistical data to the regional division of the Center for Disease Control, which is managed by her daughter.
- From the same division – where Naira Khabuliani’s spouse and Nino Zedgenidze’s father, Tengiz Zedgenidze, works as a driver – the N(N)LE receives vaccines, serums, and other materials necessary for immunization, which it later distributes to relevant medical establishments of the municipality.
- Naira Khabuliani’s N(N)LE conducts monitoring on vaccination in the municipality and counts and compares data about vaccines spent which it receives from clinics.
- The N(N)LE distributes the Hepatitis B immunoglobulin and Hepatitis C screening tests provided by the regional division of the Center for Disease Control to relevant medical establishments of the municipality.
At the time of the state of emergency announced due to the coronavirus, the fever centers in Samtskhe-Javakheti were created in those medical establishments where Naira Khabuliani works as an epidemiologist. The directors of the Abastumani Lung Center and the Clinic of Akhaltsikhe ‘Imedi’ have confirmed that from April 17 up to June 1, Khabuliani continued to work as an epidemiologist at both establishments at the same time. According to Ordinance No. 253 of the Government of Georgia, she was only allowed to work in one fever center. Naturally, the said fever centers provided information on the epidemiological situation to the regional division managed by Khabuliani’s daughter.
TI Georgia calls upon the Internal Audit Department of the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia and the relevant service of the Akhaltsikhe Municipality to enquire into the issue of conflict of interest of Naira Khabuliani and her daughter, Nino Zedgenidze, and to respond accordingly.
We also call upon the State Audit Office to study the expenses and performance efficiency of those state medical programs which are jointly implemented by the agencies managed by the mother and daughter.