Residents of the city of Volgorechensk, in the Kostroma region of Russia, marched on November 17 to demand more government funding for healthcare, citing the lack of adequate medical facilities and services at public hospitals. The call for the protest was given by the regional committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF).
According to reports, more than 200 people took part in the march, and signed a petition demanding that their right to affordable and high-quality healthcare be ensured through the restoration of full-fledged state financial support for medical institutions.
Olga Panova, secretary of the city committee of KPRF denounced that “only 8.9% of the country’s budget is allocated to the health sector. There is money in the country, but it is not directed to medicine. Today the region (Kostroma) ranks in the 7th place in terms of the number of cancer cases reported in Russia. The state should take health care under its wing.”
Valery Izhitsky, secretary of KPRF Kostroma region, said that in terms of quality of healthcare around the world, Russia ranks in 69th place. Also, while the average doctor’s salary in Russia is 79,000 rubles (about USD 1,240), none of the doctors in the city of Volgorechensk are paid as much. Izhitsky claimed that doctors should receive more remuneration than even the governor, since people’s health depends on them.
Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the Russian healthcare system underwent a period of rampant privatization under the government led by Boris Yeltsin. This period was characterized by major cuts in funding to the state-run healthcare facilities which led to a general decline in the quality of services. The Russian financial crisis of 2014 further exacerbated the situation as once again major cuts were made in health spending. It has been recently reported that about 40% of the basic medical facilities in the country are understaffed, while the waiting period for treatment has increased, and patients have to pay for more services that were previously free.