Healing Russia’s ailing medical system

Corruption in Russian medical practices is helping keep health standards comparable to third world countries, says the Associated Press.


  • According to a summer 2006 study by the Russian branch of Transparency International, 13 per cent of respondents who had sought medical help during the previous year had to pay an average of $90 under the table, out of wages averaging $480 a month.

  • Yelena Panfilova, head of the group, also said medical and pharmaceutical companies routinely bribe health officials so that hospitals buy their equipment and medicines, even though their quality is often not the best.

  • Kirill Danishevsky, a health researcher with the Russian Academy of Sciences' Open Health Institute, has estimated that up to 35 per cent of money spent on health care consists of under-the-table payments.

    As a result, medical care in Russia is among the worst in the industrialised world:

  • A 2000 World Health Organisation report ranked Russia's health system 130th out of 191 countries, on a par with nations such as Peru and Honduras.

  • The average Russian can expect to live only to age 66 – at least a decade less than in most Western democracies, according to a 2005 World Bank report.

  • For men, the figure is closer to 59 – meaning many Russian men don't live long enough to start collecting their pension at age 60.


  • In 2004, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Russia spent $441 per capita on health care, about a fifth of what the European Union spends.

  • Over the past two years the government has more than doubled health care spending to some $7 billion.

  • But that still works out to only about 3.4 per cent of all government spending, and the World Health Organization recommends at least 5 per cent.

    Source: To heal Russia's ailing health system, Kremlin must tackle corrupt doctors, nurses, International Herald Tribune, June 27, 2007.

    For text: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/06/27/europe/EU-FEA-GEN-Russia-Failing-Hospitals.php

    For more on Health Issues: http://www.ncpa.org/sub/dpd/index.php?Article_Category=16

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 03 July 2007
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