Saturday, January 26, 2019

Russian Children at Risk of Dying Because of Putin’s Health Care ‘Optimization’ – and Parents are Outraged

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 23 – Nearly 1500 Saratov residents have sent a petition to Vladimir Putin demanding an end to what they call “the lethal optimization of health care” which has already resulted in the shuttering of three children’s hospitals there and plans to close a fourth in the near future as well as other hospitals and medical centers in the city.

            The parents are especially outraged because this cutback in medical services means many children are at risk of dying has occurred, according to some, because officials want to the hospitals closed so they can sell the land for profit, Nadezhda Andreyeva of Novaya gazeta says (

                The parents have also organized protests at the sites to be closed; and perhaps indicative of where things are heading, they have been joined in some of them by KPRF, LDPR and Navalny activists, a shift from the increasingly prevalent communal protest to a more overtly political one. 

            The authorities have only themselves to blame given what they are telling parents. The official explanation for the closure on one hospital is that it is old, but doctors and parents say that no new hospitals have been built in recent years or are planned. 

            And the closures are creating problems that few think about – until or unless they or their children need assistance. When the network of hospitals was open, ambulance drivers knew where to take those with emergencies. Now, that is increasingly unclear, with drivers having to guess where to take those they pick up.

            The closure of hospitals also means that children are sometimes placed in adult institutions and then required to run between buildings in their nightgowns even when temperatures are low and there is snow on the ground.  Medical people say they can’t imagine how such a thing could be tolerated.

            Andreyeva details the complicated and convoluted history of the closures that have happened since Putin announced his “optimization” of health care, a euphemism for cut backs, closures that have put ever more people and especially children and the elderly at risk and sparked new anger at the Kremlin leader whose friends continue to get richer.

            To the extent that residents of Saratov and others find proof that the land freed up by the closure of hospitals is being sold or rented for the profit of those around the powers that be, they are likely to do more than send petitions or hold demonstrations about it.  They are likely to make political demands – and that is something the regime at present can’t really afford. 

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