Media Review

19 march, 2012 14:36

Rossiiskaya Gazeta: "Thermometre for the country"

Vladimir Putin to help public organisations perform social services.

At the extended meeting of the Board of the Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin set the challenge of matching the standards of social services in advanced countries. It is necessary to develop a public appraisal procedure for all major decisions in this respect.

"We must give our social institutions a makeover," the prime minister said. "They should meet the latest standards."

Putin emphasised that "the social sphere is important precisely because it is seen as an indicator of the state's viability." He recalled that, having made social development a priority, the government has never retreated from this principle, "not even during the most difficult periods in our recent history."

As a result, the natural decline in the population has slowed by 7.3 times since 2000. Life expectancy in Russia has gone up by almost five years to exceed 70 years. The birth rate has risen by about 45%, while the infant mortality rate has dropped.

Over the last 12 years, federal spending on healthcare has increased by 30 times to half a trillion roubles in 2011. But the quality of social services cannot be measured in terms of federal spending alone. The main criterion is how people feel about it. "We must match the social service standards of the economically advanced countries and create a comfortable living environment for people in Russia," Putin summed up.

He promised to continue programmes of support for families with children, paying special attention to demographically unstable regions. In 2013 benefits for families with incomes below the regional average will be introduced following the birth of their third and each subsequent child.

"Life cannot be comfortable without major improvements in the healthcare system," Putin went on. "People, especially old people and people with disabilities often complain about the inadequate provision of medicine. We must ensure that this process works smoothly – people should not feel humiliated when asking for what is theirs by law."

In addition, doctors should not be underpaid. By 2018, a doctor's salary should be double the average in a given region. Moreover, allocations for monetary incentives and additional benefits should be increased faster than the basic pay.

The government will continue increasing pensions. This year they will grow by more than 10% (another increase – by 3.4% – is due in April). Social pensions will go up as well.

Putin spoke about the need to provide incentives for those who would like to continue working after reaching the retirement age. He suggested creating a mechanism for increasing deferred pension amounts, payable upon retirement.

Putin also mentioned support for social workers. "We must establish the most favourable conditions for non-profit and public organisations working in the social sphere," he said, recalling how he recently met with the heads of the traditional churches that were all eager to serve people. "Governmental and non-governmental organisations that provide social services should have equal rights, including the right to government financing, state resources and state orders," he said.

Putin emphasised the need to develop an appraisal procedure to evaluate the social effect of the legal acts in this respect. "The public must be directly involved in evaluating the performance of the main social institutions, while the authorities at all levels must assume higher responsibility for resolving social issues," he said.

Minister of Healthcare and Social Development Tatyana Golikova made a long report that abounded in figures. She spoke for almost an hour and managed to touch on most healthcare issues. She said that the results of the demographic programme and the national health project have exceeded all expectations.

Last year Russia registered the best demographic indicators in the last 20 years – 1.8 million babies were born in the country. For the first time in many years, the population in Russia exceeded 143 million. Almost 144,000 children were born last January or 8.2% more than in January 2011.

"In 2011 we recorded the biggest decline in the death rate over the past 19 years – 5.2% better than in 2010," Golikova said.

Salaries of doctors involved in healthcare modernisation programmes grew by 16.5% in 2011 and of paramedical personnel by 14.8%. "Now the average monthly salaries of these doctors are over 28,000 roubles, which is 20% more than the national average," Golikova said.


The social sphere is important precisely because it is seen as an indicator of the state's viability.

Kira Latukhina