Health Care in Russia

A group of British doctors came to Russia last year in the summer as guests of the Russian Medical Workers' Union. They visited polyclinics and hospitals as well as other medical institutions in Moscow, Tula, St. Petersburg and Omsk. Upon their return the British doctors had a talk with their Russian colleagues.

Dr. Sharland: During our stay in Russia we were kindly acquainted with the health care system in your country. We've seen that health care in Russia, both preventive and curative, is available to the whole population.

Dr. Sharova: Dear colleagues, as to the character of health care in our country, the most distinctive feature of it is the attention paid to pro-

238 ♦ Learning To Discuss Medicine

phylaxis. One of the main tasks in the fight against various diseases i| the early detection of the first signs of disease.

Dr. McDonald: Would you tell us how this is done?

Dr. Sharova: We pay much attention to the health education of tbt population. We believe that is one of the main available methods qf j preventing the spread of diseases. For this purpose the press, cinema. radio, and television are very helpful.

Dr. Kelly: We were surprised to find out that general practitioners do ] not exist in your country. We were told that in your country the primary medical care is provided by polyclinics. We visited some polyclinics^ Your polyclinics are large medical centres employing many doctors and nurses. Polyclinics have their own laboratories and X-ray, physiotherapy, surgical and dental departments. Some have even radiotherapy units.

Dr. Kruglov: I would like to add that we have polyclinics for the adult population of a given area and polyclinics for children. Ambulant patients are seen at the polyclinic by district doctors. Patients who are seriously ill are visited by their district doctor at home.

Dr. Sharland: We've seen that district doctors in your country, like their British colleagues, are on call part of their working day. And how many hours a day does your district doctor work?

Dr. Nikitina: The doctor works 6 hours a day. For the district doctor this is made up of 3 hours seeing patients at the polyclinic and 3 hours in visiting patients in their homes.

Dr. McDonald: And what about your emergency ambulance service?

Dr. Sharova:. The emergency ambulance service operates day and" night and is free of charge. In case of an emergency condition one has to dial 03 for a doctor to come. The ambulances are equipped with diagnostic, respiratory, and anaesthetic apparatus, as well as blood-transfusion and other devices, which enable the doctor to give emergency surgical and medical treatment.

Dr. Kelly: We saw several specialised hospitals in St. Petersburg for the treatment of particular diseases - infectious and psychiatric diseases, cancer, and eye (ophthalmological) diseases and others. In Moscow we visited the Mother-and-Child Health Care Centre. This Centre deals with not only routine problems of obstetrics and gynaecology but also with research in the normal physiology of a female organism starting from an early stage of development.

Dr. Nikitina: I'd like to add that the main task of this Centre is to ensure the birth of a healthy baby. That is why the doctors focus on the

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problem of the care for the foetus or intra-uterine patient as we say. New methods of disease prevention, diagnostics and treatment developed at the Centre are made known to the numerous maternity consultation centres of our country which provide health care for expectant mothers starting from the early months of pregnancy.

Dr. Stewart: I for myself, am very much curious to know about private medical practice and medical insurance in Russia.

Dr.Napalkov: At present, there have emerged a number of private diagnostic and consultation centres, general hospitals and specialised clinics. Medical and health care is provided in line with compulsory and voluntary medical insurance programmmes set up by the state via private insurance companies.

Dr. Sharland: Dear colleagues, we've seen much of the practice of medicine in Russia. And what are the problems facing medical science in your country?

Dr. Kruglqv: As for scientific problems, medical research is concerned with the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular, and oncological diseases, as well as infections, HIV and in particular. Medical scientists are doing research into the problems of gerontology, medical genetics, immunology and the development of artificial organs. Modern non-invasive/minimally invasive techniques of the surgical treatment of ischemic heart disease have been introduced, among them coronary artery bypass grafting, percutaneous transloominal coronary angioplasty or intracoronary stenting.

Dr. Sharland: I'd like to thank you for the warm reception and for the opportunity to get acquainted with the health care system in your country. We hope to see a delegation of Russian doctors in Great Britain in the near future. Thanks very much, again.

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