Saturday, August 8, 2015

Russians Dying as a Result of Putin’s ‘Optimization’ of Medical System

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 8 – It is bad enough that Russians and the world have to watch the horrific spectacle of the Putin regime destroying perfectly good food on the borders of the Russian Federation when many Russians are hungry or will be as domestic producers raise their prices to take advantage of the situation.

            But it is far worse and worthy of much greater anger and contempt that many Russians are dying as a result of Vladimir Putin’s “optimization” of the country’s medical system, a euphemism in bad taste for cutbacks that have left many Russians without access to necessary medicines, experts or even medical care altogether.

            Recently, the Russian Accounting Chamber issued a report noting that as a result of “optimization,” Russia has been left with 90,000 fewer medical workers than it had only a year ago even though the number of people seeking medical treatment grew by 152,700, a scissors crisis that has reduced access to medical care and reduced its quality.

            As a result, the chamber said, the number of those who had died in hospital had increased 3.7 percent over the same period even though the number of those hospitalized had declined. In 49 of 61 federal subjects the chamber examined, the number of lethal outcomes among patients went up.

            Many had hoped that these findings would lead to the end of “optimization,” Vladimir Prikhodko writes in “Kavkazskaya politika;” but that has not happened. And to give some idea of the enormous human tragedy involved, he has focused on what has happened in a single subject, Krasnodar kray (
            There, he says, “optimization has put municipal healthcare at the edge of a catastrophe.” There aren’t enough doctors in polyclinics, pay for junior medical workers is now less than they would get in unemployment compensation, and in some the entire system of delivering medical care and necessary treatment has collapsed.
            Russians can’t get the care they need, and many are dying as a result, Prikhodko says. Those who value their health have to travel from facility to facility, pound on the doors, and still are uncertain of getting any medicines or medical treatment. Those who can’t are left to their own devices and death.
            Law enforcement doesn’t do anything even when the relatives of those who die as a result complaint to the proper agencies, often giving the excuse that the relatives have turned to the police too late: unless a complaint against a medical facility is lodged within three days, it won’t be considered, the Krasnodar police say.
            Given that those who have lost a relative are likely to be in deep mourning and involved with funeral arrangements during that period, such official attitudes only add insult to injury, the journalist continues. Prosecutors and Russian insurance companies often are equally indifferent to complaints to them about this situation.
            But that is only one of many problems in the era of Putin’s “optimization.”  Local officials have cut salaries for medical workers to the point that they are leaving the field, often leaving those who had counted on them with no access to qualified medical treatment.  Sometimes the doctors and nurses don’t even get the pay they are owed.
            Moreover, the facilities they are supposed to work in are often in poor repair, with scheduled maintenance having been put off for so long that the buildings themselves represent a risk to those who visit them. And both regular medicines and special treatments for particular diseases are increasingly unavailable to the staff and to those who need them.

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