Russian Health Care: Renovation, Innovation Or Death

How does Russia’s health care system compare to others in the world?



According to news sources, the fact that Russian doctors are finding ways to become inventive and innovative is just the tip of a very large health-care iceberg. According to The World Health Organization, Russia ranks 130th in terms of the effectiveness of its health care system and 127th regarding the health of its population. These figures not only place Russia far behind developed Western countries but also behind the majority of East European and Latin American countries with a similar level of economic development.


What are the most common ailments suffered in Russia?

Russians tend to fall ill much more often than Europeans and are 30 percent more likely to get sick than Europeans. According to Raphael Oganov, one of Russia’s top cardiologists:

“As in most industrial countries, Russians suffer mostly from cardiovascular diseases. The number of heart disease patients, 16 million, places Russia second in the world, after Ukraine.”

Heart disease is linked to unhealthy Russian lifestyles, which include a higher smoking rate than anywhere in Europe. This combined with the lack of medical checkups and preventive programs kills 1.3 million Russians per year. For Russian men, the average life expectancy is 59, which is one of the lowest in the industrial world. Mortality among Russian men has risen by 60% since 1991 and is now four to five times higher than in Europe. According to published studies, smoking kills 300,000-400,000 people per year and alcohol consumption is also a leading cause of death, killing annually about 30,000 Russians.

What can the Russian government do to aid this growing health care crisis?

Seventy percent of equipment used in Russia’s regional hospitals is obsolete. Doctors are also paid very poorly by the state and often double as pharmaceutical representatives to make ends meet. The Russian government is well aware of the challenge of its failing healthcare system and two years ago made health care one of the four major national projects eligible for billions of dollars in state spending. Over the past two years, 220.3 billion rubles ($9.3 billion) have been allocated for the health care national project. The money has provided for the construction of 15 high-tech medical centers across the country, new equipment for hospitals, vehicles, immunization programs and salary increases for family doctors.

Time will tell for patients and doctors doubling as magicians everywhere throughout Russia.