Saturday, May 31, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Health Care System in Pskov Oblast Continues to Deteriorate

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 31 – Official statistics show that health care services in Russia’s Pskov oblast which adjoins Estonia and Latvia have deteriorated rapidly in recent years to the point of crisis, according to a report by Lev Shlosberg, a Yabloko party member of the oblast legislative assembly.

            In a presentation to oblast legislators, he said the number of hospital beds per 100,000 residents had fallen from 105.5 in 2008 to 98.9 in 2012 and the number of beds for children had declined from more than 300 to 263 over the same period. Polls show that 54 percent of residents are upset and blame the government for inaction (

            The “modernization” of the health care system that oblast officials have talked about and that involves the creation of inter-regional health centers, Shlosberg said, has in fact made the situation worse. The number of doctors in district hospitals has fallen, and now in the 14 such hospitals, there are fewer than 25 doctors.

            The new “inter-regional” centers that the oblast officials are so proud of not only do not meet basic treatment standards but also lack the legal and financial status of hospitals.  Moreover, both doctors and patients have to go much further to give or receive treatment, leading to greater expense and a reduction in access.

            The Yabloko party leader called for increasing spending on health care in Pskov oblast and also for attracting more medical personnel to the region by offering to pay the educational expenses of those who would upon graduation agree to serve in Pskov’s hospitals or other medical centers.

            The situation with regard to health care in Pskov Oblast was notorious under the previous LDPR governor who closed drug stores and restricted public transportation to save money and thus sent the death rate among diabetics who often could not get insulin as a result soaring far above the all-Russian average and sent life expectancy figures plummeting.

            Indeed, as a result of his tenure, the difference in life expectancies between Pskov oblast and the Tartu county of Estonia was the largest of any two contiguous territories in the world.  Shlosberg’s report shows that the situation has not improved – and may even be set to deteriorate further.

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