Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Blood Donation in the South Caucasus: Refill, Please!

With the upcoming World Blood Donor Day on June, 14, the question about current attitudes towards blood donation in the South Caucasus is worth examining. While there are considerable efforts in all three countries to increase donation rates and improve blood screening, donation rates remain below 1%, according to WHO data for Armenia and Georgia, and thereby stand at the lower end in international comparison. Increasing the availability of safe blood is of tremendous importance to guarantee the minimum needs for patients. Here we summarize some of the main information provided by the WHO, as it relates to the South Caucasus.

Armenia has registered a growing amount of blood collection over the last few years. In 2009, 54.6% of the donations came from paid donors (US$ 30 per donation), 40.4% from family/ replacement donors and 5% from voluntary non-remunerated donors. The financial incentives for blood donation are strongly anchored, and groups advocating unpaid donation have to compete against remunerated donation offered by the pharma industry. While blood donation is currently financed through the national budget, it is envisaged to shift responsibility to private initiatives. There are already several organisations that advocate for non-remunerated blood donation, mainly Club 25 or the Fund for Armenian Relief.

In Azerbaijan, blood collection figures more than doubled between 2003 and 2006. In 2008, a law was passed by which only non-paid donors are admitted. There is no remuneration for donors with the exception of reimbursement for travel expenses in some cases. Islamic religious groups in Azerbaijan have participated in efforts to increase blood donation. Last year, a campaign was held at mosques and places of pilgrimage during the religious holiday of Ashura. The blood donation system in Azerbaijan is funded by the government and overviewed by the Research Institute on Haematology and Transfusiology, which includes the central blood bank. Apparently the main problems relate to supplies of consumables, which are not always available (e.g. blood bags, tubes etc).

In Georgia, the donation rate would need to increase by some 60% in order to cover the needs of Georgian patients. The transfusion system is privately managed, although there is government funding for blood donation and tests. The system suffers from a lack of quality control of blood donations, which is especially critical as the rate of Hepatitis C carriers is as high as 6%. Like in Armenia, the expectation for re-numeration for blood donation is deeply rooted. Currently, 95% of blood donations come from paid donors. There are two blood banks promoting voluntary non-remunerated blood donation in Georgia: the Jo Ann Medical Centre blood bank and the Gudushauri Hospital Blood Bank, both of which only work with volunteer donors. In 2009, the First Lady of Georgia started regular volunteer blood donation campaigns.

Sources and further information are available here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

If You Were Asked What Everyone Else Thought of Your Country...

By Sarrah Bechor

CRRC recently completed its 8th annual Caucasus Barometer survey, gathering data about perceptions of trust, livelihood and social realities during face-to-face interviews in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Some of the results from these countries have been compared to results from 22 other countries that were surveyed as part of the 2010 Pew Global Attitudes Project Survey.

One question asked members of these 25 countries whether or not they believed their countries were generally liked or disliked. Results show that well over half of the population of the South Caucasus countries believed that their respective countries are generally liked: 76% of Armenians, 68% of Georgians and 52% of Azerbaijan agreed with the statement.

The percentages of don’t know/refuse to answer (DK/RA) responses are also quite interesting. Nineteen percent of Georgians, 25% of Azerbaijanis and 10% of Armenians responded that people did not know about their respective countries. It might be interesting to understand why certain populations such as Pakistanis, Azerbaijanis or Russians have a rather large percentage (10% or more) of people who say they don’t know what others think of their country, as opposed to other populations such as the French, Indians or Americans who have very little percentages of don’t know responses. We can identify a few patterns by breaking up the list of 25 countries into different groups:

Western Europe: Britain, France, Germany and Spain
Hubs of Tourism/History of Interaction: Indonesia, India, Jordan, Egypt, Argentina, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Brazil, US and Turkey
Politically Contentious: China, Lebanon, Pakistan, Russia
Isolated South Caucasus: Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan (These countries could also fall under the politically contentious category due to the presence of frozen, past or potential conflicts)

Many of the Western European countries on the list are either hubs of tourism or have a history of international interaction (e.g., history of colonial, economic or political prominence). These countries have lower percentages of DK/RA responses. Politically-contentious states such as Russia and China are either overshadowed by regional conflict such as in the case of Lebanon in the Middle East, South Korea which is often related to issues involving North Korea, or China, Russia and Pakistan. The South Caucasus region could also fall into the politically contentious category and they are relatively isolated from the international arena.

In this way, citizens who said that they didn't know or refused to answer have also provided interesting information just as those who said that they perceived their country to be generally liked or disliked.

Please visit CRRC’s webpage for the 2010 CRRC Caucasus Barometer and the webpage for the Pew Global Attitudes Project to get more information about the surveys, or to access the original questionnaires and datasets.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this theme as well!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Follow-Up Media Landscape Survey

By Tamar Zurabishvili

In September 2009, CRRC conducted a baseline survey on the Georgian media landscape within the scope of an EU-funded project entitled, “Strengthening the Media's Role as a Watchdog Institution in Georgia”, implemented by the Eurasia Partnership Foundation. The results of the study have informed a far-reaching public debate on the state of media, attitudes of the Georgian population toward the media, and perceptions of its independence and professionalism. The survey continues to be a point of reference, as this recent article illustrates. The ongoing debate suggests that there is considerable demand for fact-based research about the Georgian media.

The follow-up Media Landscape survey, conducted by CRRC in April-May 2011 with funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides a unique opportunity to analyze attitudes of the Georgian population towards the media, as well as to monitor changes in media consumption. Among the findings, our preliminary analysis shows that the number of internet users has increased two-fold since September 2009. Internet as the primary source of information is still limited, but with now 5% it has nearly doubled in the last 18 months. At the same time, respondents say that most Georgians use the internet as a tool for social networking. There thus are new opportunities for Georgian media outlets that may seek to reach out to internet users more proactively and to develop more attractive internet media products.

These are only the first snapshots. More data and analysis will be available soon. For now, the questionnaire and dataset for the 2009 survey can be downloaded in SPSS and STATA formats from CRRC’s website. We welcome your visit!

ODA – CRRC Data Analysis Online

CRRC is happy to announce its new Online Data Analysis (ODA) program! Crunching numbers from CRRC surveys is now easier than ever.

The CRRC Georgia office has initiated and created this special program with the help of Irakli Naskidashvili. The ODA provides users with the opportunity to access survey data and analyze data online without having to use any special statistical program, such as SPSS or STATA.

The ODA is extremely user-friendly. With one click you can choose a survey question of interest and receive a chart and a table in Excel online. Charts and tables can be exported and downloaded in accessible formats.

Currently we have available on the ODA both the 2009 and 2010 Caucasus Barometer surveys, which includes data on all the three South Caucasus countries. The ODA will be periodically updated with new data gathered by CRRC.

An example of a slide on ODA:

An example of a table on ODA:

Interested? Check out ODA now!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Public Attitudes in Georgia: CRRC Polling Results

CRRC conducted a survey on political and economic attitudes in Georgia for the National Democratic Institute (NDI), funded by the Swedish International development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). The fieldwork of the survey took place in March, 2011 and surveyed 2,893 respondents in Georgia. The survey covered the issues of public importance, perceptions and attitudes toward democracy and ongoing reforms, as well as various domestic and foreign affairs.

According to the survey results, economic and social problems such as jobs and rising prices are major source of concerns for the majority of the population: 46% of respondents said that situation has worsened in respect of jobs since January 2008 (37% said it was the same).

Beyond that, the survey highlights many nuances that often are disregarded when just looking at the headlines. Below, for example, you see that there is a fair amount of appetite for discussion on specific policies.

The survey results were presented by NDI at a press conference on April 6, 2011 and other presentations followed, throughout Georgia.This included public meetings in Batumi, Gori, Kutaisi, Rustavi, and a number of other cities.

The survey results were widely covered by many media sources, such as Civil.ge, the Messenger, 24 hours, Rezonansi, as well as through the TV channels, such as Rustavi2 and Imedi. The results are accessible from the NDI website.

C-R Policy Brief on IDP Attitudes to Conflict, Return, Justice

In March, Conciliation Resources (C-R) has published a report on IDP attitudes to conflict, return and justice, which we have already highlighted in a previous blog-post. As you may recall, this report was based on a survey of IDPs which CRRC undertook for C-R in the summer of 2010.

Now, C-R has published a policy brief on the same issue.

This is a short crisp summary of some of the main findings, also with C-R's policy recommendations.

C-R highlights five main suggestions:
  1. focus on IDP's welfare and integration;
  2. giving the displaced a voice;
  3. facilitating information exchange and a broad public discussion on return;
  4. utilizing IDPs as a resource for peace, bridging between different groups;
  5. responding to the demand for justice.
If you are interested in the raw data, this is also accessible from C-R's website. For now, find the link to the highly readable report here.