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Putin says Russia needs major health care reform, pledges initial investment of over $10 bln

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday Russia needs to start a large-scale health-care reform in 2011 and pledged to allocate more than 300 billion rubles ($10 billon) in the next few years to improve health care in the country.

"This year, we should work gradually to prepare and make decisions, and starting next year, begin large-scale changes in the medical sphere," Putin said during his address to the lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma.

The prime minister said the Russian government would allocate 300 billion rubles ($10 billion) for the modernization of medical institutions over the next two years.

"Over 30% of the country's medical institutions are hazardous or in need of major repairs, despite everything that has already been done [...] Many hospitals and polyclinics do not have the necessary equipment to provide the kind of medical help that meets modern requirements," Putin said.

He said the government was planning to allocate some 24 billion rubles ($824 million) to improve spending efficiency and public access to medical services.

In addition, the country will spend 136 billion rubles ($4.67 billion) on raising the salaries of medical personnel, providing patients with medicines and food, and purchasing diagnostic equipment.

The prime minister did not go into detail on where the funds for the proposed health-care measures would come from, but said the obligatory medical insurance tax paid by companies will increase from 3.1% to 5.1% starting from 2011. This will give the Federal Obligatory Medical Insurance Fund an additional 460 billion rubles, the same amount as the government has pledged to spend on health-care measures.


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