Russia switches from high-tech medical centres to health centres
By Olga Ostrovskaja
Two years ago, "The Health", a national project, began by wanting new high-tech medical centres in various parts of the country, with 15 new hospitals to be built for cardiosurgery, orthopaedics and oncology. Only five have been built. The government has decided to switch the focus of the project to preventive medicine and to create health centres for this purpose
This large-scale effort calls for the reduction of alcohol use from 18 to 15 litres per person and a reduction in smokers from 23% to 20%. In addition, teenagers attending sports clubs must increase from 20% to 53%. The aim is to reach those percentages in 2012, when 1,500 new health centres will open at a cost of around one billion rubles.
The project authors propose that healthy people will visit those centres (by themselves or on doctors’ recommendations) to test for cardiovascular disease risks (main cause of Russian deaths after aged 40), and to receive personal programmes of prevention. The centres will also organise special anti-smoking and anti-alcohol abuse events.
During a meeting of the Ministry with leaders of medical centres in various parts of the country, Tatjana Golikova, Minister of Public Health and Social Development admitted: ‘It’s a very difficult task. Russia is large, the regions are very different and this job needs to be completed during its realisation.’ Many agreed with the minister. They do not understand how they can organize the visitors (72 people must visit each centre every day) and how they can pay doctors’ salaries for this type of work (it’s not a medical job, said some). Another new aspect in Russia is that State medical insurance is to finance the prevention centres.
Questions are now more numerous than answers.
Everyone understands that prevention is very important for healthcare worldwide -- and particularly in Russia. A United Nations Organisation report this October demonstrated terrible data about trends in the Russian population, e.g. if alcohol abuse does not reduce, the population will have decreased by 11 million in 2025. For smoker numbers alone, Russia is slotted among the top five countries. Russian men die due to ‘external factors’ in 18.2% of cases compared to 6.5% in developed countries; this means that about every fifth Russian will be killed, commit suicide, be a road victim or will be lost to other conditions.
Could the new ‘health’ centres change this sad data? Only time will tell.
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