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Putin offers Russians to drink less alcohol to improve health

The struggle with alcohol addiction and smoking should be given priority in the struggle for the health of the nation, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Margaret Chan here on Friday. “You recalled about smoking, we just should drink less alcohol. This will improve dramatically the health of the nation, it goes without saying,” he said.

“I believe that we should follow your recommendations on the propaganda of the healthy lifestyle, and this should be the main trend of our work in this sphere,” the premier added. Meanwhile, Russia should pool its efforts with the WHO in this sphere.

The prime minister also noted the WHO role in the struggle with infectious diseases. “We witness your efforts in the struggle with infectious diseases that pose a threat to millions of people, particularly your struggle with ‘the bird flu’ and the flu virus H1N1,” the premier said. “We are guided by your warnings and analytical studies and are taking necessary measures at the national level,” he added.

Meanwhile, Putin assured the WHO chief that Russia does not intend to cut health care expenses. “Despite the world financial and economic crisis we increase health care expenditures this year,” Putin noted. According to him, the Health national project adopted several years ago has brought “the expected results.” “The overall mortality rate reduced by 9%, the infant mortality rate went down by 22.7% and the birth rate increased by 18.7%, on the whole the loss of the population shrank more than twice,” Putin recalled. Meanwhile, “the average lifespan increased by 2.5 years,” he added.

The prime minister noted that Russia would develop its health care system under a long-term program in the future. “The government is drafting a concept of long-term development of the health care system until 2020 that is based on the state guarantees for free medical services,” he said.

For her part, Margaret Chan thanked the Russian premier for Russia’s care for health problems. The WHO witnesses in Russia what the financial world calls the payback of investments, profitability, she said, noting all investments in the Russian health care system are paid back.

The WHO chief shared with Putin her impressions from the work with officials of the Russian Ministry of Health and Social Development. The Russian Cabinet has a perfect gender balance, as Vladimir Putin appoints women on necessary posts, she remarked. Putin said in English with a smile that it was his decision, apparently recalling that Tatiana Golikova was appointed as minister, when Vladimir Putin, then in the capacity of president, signed a decree on forming the government.


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