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Friday, April 11, 2008

EDITORIAL: Russian Healthcare -- Now That is Sick


Russian Healthcare -- Now That is Sick

Russia is a nation with yearly medical doctor salaries that average $5,160 to $6,120 while nurses make an average of $2,760 to $3,780 annually. That means a top-end doctor, like a surgeon, is only making about $500 per month, less than the national average of around $650 (the "average" isn't a useful indicator of actual income, however, because it's skewed by the bizarre level of income paid to Russia's super-rich oligarchs). As a result, many Russian physicians turn to corrupt practices like selling drugs on the black market and demanding bribes from patients in order to make ends meet.

Given that background, you will not be surprised to learn that Russia has only 200,000 of the 600,000 physicians it needs as a nation. Who would want to enter the profession on those terms? Russia "spends only three percent of its GDP on health, a figure that is only half of what it should spend and one that puts Russia near the bottom of developed countries" according to scholar Paul Goble, translating a Russian report by Leonid Roshal, the director of the Moscow Research Institute on Emergency Pediatric Surgery and Traumatology. And of that measly 3%, up to a third will be siphoned off by corruption before it ever reaches those it was intended to support. "Today is a favorable moment for Russia. There are both money and the chance to do something," says Roshal. Goble reports: "But on the basis of Moscow's recent actions, he lamented, there is little reason for anyone to expect that any significant increase in funding will occur any time soon."

Roshal understands that Russia's dictator Vladimir Putin would rather spend the nation's fossil fuel proceeds on buzzing America with strategic bombers and helping Iran go nuclear. He knows that a major investment by Putin in healthcare would only create a more vibrant population, one more capable of organizing protest actions against his draconian crackdown on democracy. Putin prefers for Russians to stay weak and sick, thus easier to control, freeing even more funds for his crazed reinvigoration of the cold war.

Incidentally, the situation in the legal profession is little better. Goble points to a recent interview by Igor Trunov, head of the Central Bureau of Lawyers in Moscow, condemning the level of preparation of the country's lawyers in light of a recent announcement by Moscow State University, the Russian Harvard, that "the diplomas of lawyers trained at the University's law faculty after 1992 may be declared invalid because of shortcomings in training they received there."

When we gape at the epic scale of this disaster, which epitomizes the utter failure of the Putin administration, and then remind ourselves that in public opinion polls and elections nearly 70% of Russians support Putin, we achieve a moment of clarity as to why we became "russophobes" in the first place. What "enemy" of Russia could have hoped to inflict a more devastating injury upon Russia as a nation than these actions of the country's own government?

We reported on Wednesday that Putin had stated at the NATO summit that Ukraine is "not a state" and has no right to existence independent of Russia -- basically the same attitude he takes towards Chechnya. Only a madman would make such a barbaric claim in the midst of NATO powers trying to decide whether Russia was dangerous or not, unless of course he actually wanted to provoke the world's most awesome military alliance into conflict. And that's clearly what Putin does want, even as his own nation is literally going extinct because of illness it has no ability to treat. The world's journalists need only get out of bed to be confronted by examples of Putin's belligerence, but they can search the live-long day and not find a single example of Putin demanding a rise in doctor salaries.

It's monstrous.


Anonymous said...

please compare with US and UK health care system. And use facts.

La Russophobe said...

Are you mental? Why don't you ask us to compare Greece and Turkey? This blog is about Russia you illiterate monkey.

Alexander said...

What would be the point the UK has socialized healthcare system, the UK spends less than half per capita than the US yet has higher life expectancy (US #44 at 78 years, UK #36 at 78.7 years), but as the UK has a socialized healthcare system it would be more apt to compare the UK's healthcare system to Russia's socialized healthcare system, in any case the results are poor for russia, which has a life expectancy (#156 at 65.87 years and less than the majority of the countries that FSU countries) of either a war torn country or a third world country. Looks like La Russophobe's analysis of the dire situation of the Russian healthcare system is correct, a damning failure for what Forbes has recently revealed to be the richest government in the world, I expect those in the Duma get much better medical treatment than the ordinary Russian surfs, even if they can be bothered to queue for hours in the hope of getting treatment in a system which discourages people from seeking treatment.