Opposition politician Vladimir Milov is running a series of blog posts on Russia’s recently published 3-year draft budget. His most recent article focuses on proposed health care expenditures.
Milov first condemns the cynicism of the Regime in its exploitation of its newly minted “constitutional majority”.
“Shortly after the elections (to do so earlier was dangerous, for obvious reasons) the Ministry of Finance published a draft three-year budget through 2020.”
There are a lot of horrible things in the draft budget, Milov writes, saying that he will continue to analyze them in future posts. But, he continues, “without exaggeration, the most anti-national and simply criminal plot is the planned radical reduction in healthcare expenditures.”
“Let’s just look at why we have such a high mortality rate in the country. Every year nearly 2 million people in Russia die, and the reasons for two-thirds of the deaths are cardiovascular disease and oncology (cancer).”
Milov includes a pie chart from Rosstat (the State Statistics Office) showing that 48.7% of deaths in 2015 were from cardiovascular disease, while another 15.7% were from cancer.
“Therefore, it would seem that the State from all of its resources should spend the most significant share [of the budget] to reduce the mortality of its citizens from the most life-threatening diseases of Russians. Especially since… we are far behind developed countries [technologically].”
But what does our State do instead, he asks. With a budget of 13 trillion rubles, they cut the programs that would help these people.
“Now these programs will be as low as only a few hundred million rubles a year…”
And meanwhile, the security services and the bureaucracy will get about 50% of the budget.
“This catastrophic cut in funding for these programs in fact can only be interpreted in one way – die, citizens, as you wish. We have the budget deficit, geopolitics, Syria, the fight against the US, and you have your cancer and your heart, and this is your problem, we are not responsible.
In general, the share of spending on health care in the budget will be greatly reduced in the next three years.”
“All responsibility for healthcare will be shoved into the regions, whose budgets are in deficit and debt and simply do not have the money for it… and even those [regions] who have money are cutting back on medical expenses, like Sobyanin [the governor of Moscow region].”
“Compare these pitiful numbers to, for example, the cost of the army, although in 2017 they are proposing to reduce [their share] from 4 trillion rubles to 3 trillion, but it is still ten times more than the authorities proposed to spend on health care. Or the 2 trillion [ruble] expenditure on the security services, the police, the National Guard, etc. (“National Security and Law Enforcement”), these costs, by the way, unlike the military, they do not plan to cut.”
“At the same time, by all possible international standards, medicine Russia is greatly underfunded – in terms of health care expenditure as a share of GDP, we hang out somewhere in the region of 80-90th place in the world, behind not only developed countries, Ukraine or Moldova, but also even a dozen African countries. You can be sure that a new round of decline in spending on medicine will throw us to the end of the world ranking of health financing, on par with Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they spend 3-4% of GDP.”