Expert urges PH to look at Russian health model

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Dr. Vladimir Kuznetsov

Dr. Vladimir Kuznetsov

A RUSSIAN expert is urging the Philippines to look at Russia as a model for health care, as he called on the government to increase investments in public health.

Russia considers health care as one of its top priorities, and the government spends a lot of money to improve the quality of the health care system, said Dr. Vladimir Kuznetsov, vice president for international relations and associate professor at the Pacific State Medical University, one of the leading centers of medical science of the Russian Federation.

“It means that for the Russian citizens, it’s very convenient to seek health care because they don’t need to pay when they go to the hospital, when they call for the doctor or ask for an ambulance,” Kuznetsov told The Manila Times in an interview.

“Everything is free,” he added.


Kuznetsov recently visited the state-run Philippine General Hospital (PGH), the country’s biggest hospital with a 1,500-bed capacity.

“You should change something,” said Kuznetsov, who was vice mayor of Vladivostok and minister of health of Russia’s Primorsky province.

“In my understanding based on what I saw, it’s hard to be a patient and a physician here,” Kuznetsov said. “It looks like a Russian system in the ‘50s or ’60s.”

In PGH, he saw a room where there were only three physicians for 27 patients, with no air-conditioning.

“The patient can die in that situation,” he said.

Kuznetsov said the Philippine government should have the desire to improve the health care system and bring services closer to people, especially outside major urban areas where only basic medical care is available.

“If you have no money, you can be in a problem when you’re going to hospital,” he noted.

Kuznetsov however cited the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Hospital as having a level of service similar to Russia’s.

UST Hospital is a teaching hospital in Manila that has a private wing and a clinical division that caters to indigent patients.

Kuznetsov admitted that Russia’s health care system is difficult to maintain.

But the outlook has somewhat brightened given improvements in Russia’s demographic picture in the past years.

In 2012, live births in Russia outpaced deaths for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Russia’s average life expectancy reached a historic high, at 71 years, in 2013, and birthrates nearly matched European averages.

But Russia doesn’t want to be complacent and grants generous subsidies to parents, Kuznetsov said.

“The government makes special programs: It pays money for the second child, something like $8,000 per child. It also opens maternity houses for women’s health,” he said.

“Immigrants will also enjoy free health care services and they will be offered good jobs and all,” he added.

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