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With 17 million km2 of surface area, the Russian Federation is the largest country in the world. It is rich in natural resources, having major deposits of oil, natural gas, coal, timber and an assortment of minerals.
Since the end of the Soviet Union and the birth of the Russian Federation (1991), the health status of the Russian population has dramatically declined. Rates of tuberculosis, cancer and heart disease are the highest of any industrialised country. Spending on healthcare was approximately 7% of Gross National Product (GNP) in the 1960’s and this was reduced to approximately 3% around the time of the break-up. Military and industrial developments were priorities and thus received the majority of finances.
Despite the relatively poor healthcare situation and statistics, Russia has pioneered some of the most specialised fields of medicine in recent times, including laser eye surgery and different developments and breakthroughs in relation to heart surgery.
Inherited from the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation was faced with a legacy of guarantees for a wide range of social services, including citizens’ right to free medical services. The guarantee of a full range of free healthcare services has not changed with independence, but rather has been confirmed through the new Russian Constitution and the new healthcare financing law.
Until the late 1980s, the structure of health services in the Soviet Union was highly centralised. After the dissolution, the healthcare system followed the new decentralised administrative structure of the country and is now divided into federal, regional (oblast-level) and municipal (rayon-level) administrative levels.
30% of the population receive primary care through work related clinics and hospitals. For certain employment groups such as police, railroad workers, and high-level government officials, special health services exist.
In 2006, the Russian government launched a national projects plan that aims to improve four sectors of Russian life, one being healthcare. It approved an additional $3.2 billion in spending on healthcare to cover salary increases for doctors and nurses, the purchase of new equipment for clinics and the construction of eight high-tech medical centres in Russia’s outlying regions.
Because regional budgets fund the bulk of healthcare costs, standards and health statistics vary drastically across Russia’s economically diverse regions.
Facilities for the disabled fall far below western standards. Wheelchairs and artificial limbs are in very short supply with wheelchair ramps rarely existing and rehabilitation centres are few and far between.
The country is self-sufficient and is not dependent on international assistance for any significant portion of its health care funding requirements.
There are a number of different types of hospitals and healthcare clinics in use. They include: