In the country of Georgia, formerly part of the Soviet Union, more than 4,000 children and many pregnant women in the city of Kutaisi (pronounced koo-TIE-see) have been diagnosed with advance thyroid disease.
This disease, which is most noted by the presence of goiter, can cause mental retardation and immune and metabolic disorders. A pinch of iodized salt each day - something in their kitchen cabinets that they take for granted - could prevent health problems that threaten the children who are the future of this new democracy.
In 2000 Georgian Senator Dodo Shelia, M.D., of their sister city conducted a study of 42 Kutaisi schools. She documented that 54 percent of the children had advanced thyroid disease, and all were at risk of developing iodine deficiency disease.
She and the Georgian Medical Society asked for help, and A Call To Serve and a number of Columbians responded by forming the Columbia Cares for Kutaisi committee in 2001.
ACTS-Missouri took its first step toward the international treatment and education of type I diabetes in 1995. It invited ten diabetic teens, two medical students, two nurses and two endocrinologists from the Republic of Georgia to attended sessions at Camp Hickory Hill. No such camp has ever been established in Georgia due in large part to the desperate economic conditions that exist.
For eleven years ACTS has rented an abandoned ski resort, near the scenic mountain village of Bakuriani,for camp use. Transporting sixty children plus counselors, medical staff and supplies from the capital city of Tbilisi takes nearly four hours. It is only 100 miles but a difficult mountain climb stresses old busses and several rest stops are needed for vehicles as well as campers.