Staunton, Aug. 11 – Russia currently has 654,000 doctors, a number that has been declining in recent years because of low pay and the closing of medical facilities in many rural areas under Vladimir Putin’s healthcare “optimization” plan. The regions can’t keep doctors from moving to the cities; and the cities can’t keep them from changing professionals entirely.
As a result, hospitals and other healthcare facilities now report that they have 65,816 vacancies, a number that beyond doubt understates the problems because regional officials acknowledge that they often don’t count as vacancies those which haven’t been filled for some time (iarex.ru/articles/86560.html).
Worse, ever fewer new doctors are being trained. Between 2019 and 2020, the last years for which statistics have been published, the number of Russians in medical training fell from 7900 to 7100, even as the country headed into the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the need for doctors is even greater because of the war in Ukraine.
Only one of the more than 80 federal subjects has seen an increase in the number of doctors and other medical personnel over the last year beyond the statistical margin of error, and only 14 regions and republics have shown any increase at all. Were Russia to be hit by another pandemic, the number of people who would die for lack of medical treatment would skyrocket.
The Russian government last year and this has been talking about starting a state program to address these shortages, but every time the announced deadline for such a program to start, it has been pushed back, the result of budgetary stringencies, many of which are the result of the spending on Putin’s war in Ukraine.