TBILISI, DFWatch – President Saakashvili’s promise to fix the teeth of socially vulnerable people remains just a promise.
The president’s office does not even know who is responsible for implementing the program. But the president is still giving promises about giving people a new set of teeth during his media appearances with the population.
He first gave the promise in December 2011 while visiting Batumi, a port and holiday resort on the Black Sea. The event was his own birthday party, to which he had also invited a few elderly people.
“We should solve the dental problem for everyone without exception… We should fill, insert and polish the teeth of everyone so that they were are in a good mood, always smiling. When a person has problems related to teeth, they lose the joy to work, the joy to smile and has different views on life,” he said during a dinner.
But the specific details of this program became clear only later, when Saakashvili made a statement while visiting Chiatura about a program called ‘smiling Georgia’.
“We started working on a dental program and again haha-hihi, they died of laughter. Teeth is not only about a beautiful smile. When a person has no teeth, the whole health goes to hell, aren’t able to speak, to eat. We should go through each village, each region. Chiatura will be the first, so that no one will be ashamed to open their mouth because they don’t have money.”
It was said then that this program would be financed from the president reserve fund [a fund set aside for emergency situations which Saakashvili has instead used to organize concerts, ed]. In addition, Saakashvili in December said that this program would start in January and that it would be not only for socially vulnerable but also everyone who needs it.
But the president failed to mention what the program would cost. It costs on average about 100 lari, or USD 65, to fill one tooth in Georgia. This does not include treatment of a damaged tooth or mouth. It’s the same amount for one tooth prosthesis.
Even though the president said the project would start in January 2012, it hasn’t started yet and now the president hasn’t mentioned it for a few months. His office only told us they didn’t have any details.
Saakashvili mentioned ‘smiling Georgia’ in March when he was in the town Tsnori opening a new hospital. He said the program would start in May-June. Without explaining why it has been postponed, he said that the program will be implemented whatever the cost, but only for socially vulnerable people.
“Socially vulnerable have problems everywhere with getting new teeth; in the villages and cities. We start now in May-June. It will cost 10, 15 or 20 million, but we should do it. This year, because it is what completely changes the social psychology. A person doesn’t want to smile any more, work, go to work and many other things. It costs even more to have medical treatment,” he said.
Then three months went. There is still no information about when the program will be implemented, its timescale and expenses, or who is responsible for implementing it.