Amiran Gamkrelidze, the Director of the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC), reiterated in a 10 August statement that he is leaving his post after 10 years in the position and will continue his work in the scientific and pedagogical direction.
Gamkrelidze did not specify the exact date and reason for his departure and focused only on the successes achieved by the NCDC and existing challenges during his tenure. In this context, he noted the important work done by the entire Center, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Unfortunately, it was not possible to achieve all the set goals during this period. There are still many tasks to be completed and problems to be solved… I believe that the health and education of the population should be the main priority of the country, which will further condition the progress, sustainability, well-being, and correct development of the country’s economy on the basis of knowledge and experience,” Gamkrelidze said.
“For the development of the country and the preservation of existing progress,” Gamkrelidze emphasized the importance of Georgia’s membership in the Euro-Atlantic space, closer integration with European structures, and “cooperation with our main partner’s the U.S.’ sectorial institutions.”
“The National Center for Disease Control had significant support and assistance from partner foreign colleagues, representatives of international and donor organizations. I would like to express my gratitude to all our international partners, whose support made it possible not only to strengthen the work of the Center but also to improve the unified public health system of the country,” Gamkrelidze underscored and expressed hope that “the next generation will continue and further deepen cooperation with partners.”
He also thanked the ruling Georgian Dream party, especially members of the Ministry of Health and the Interagency Coordination Council, created during the pandemic, for their support in “all important initiatives.”
“It is said that ‘everything that has a beginning has an end.’ For me, this is the end of a very interesting, fourth stage of my career in the medical field. How successfully I passed through the current or other past stages will be judged in the future by my colleagues, our society, and time,” added Gamkrelidze at the end of the letter.
The Minister of Health, Vazha Azarashvili announced Gamkrelidze’s resignation for the first time on 5 August and said that his dues will be fulfilled on a temporary basis by the Deputy Health Minister, Tamar Gabunia. Responding to a question of whether Gamkrelidze’s departure is linked to his management of the pandemic, the Minister stated that it “is not related to the events before the pandemic or during the pandemic. He has served his country with dignity and is also retiring with dignity.”
Later, on 8 August, Gamkrelidze himself confirmed the information and explained that “if [his resignation] is not accepted,” they will develop a “transition period plan” for the process of transferring authority. He emphasized that he is leaving the position of his own volition, and has “no conflict” with the ruling party but is simply giving way to the future generation.
The media spoke of a confrontation between Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and epidemiologists and the former Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze regarding how to manage the pandemic and such subjects as green passes, among other issues, as far back as December 2021. On his part, Gamkrelidze denied the allegations. Significantly, Tikaradze left her position shortly after the reports emerged.
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Gamkrelidze did not confirm the confrontation with the PM on the topic of vaccination and the cancellation of Green passes in February of this year either and said, “how can there be a confrontation between the Prime Minister and the director of the institute, I am not a political figure.”