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State Duma insists on splitting Health Ministry
The lower house of Russia's parliament could submit to the Russian prime minister its proposal to divide the Health Ministry into two bodies without dismissing Health Minister Mikhail Zurabov.
Early in March, Zurabov, unpopular for the rising cost of healthcare and as an architect of reforms to abolish Soviet-era benefits, promised to dismiss the heads of regional public health regulating bodies over a drug scandal.
Since the controversial law replacing benefits with financial compensation came into force in 2005, many cheap prescription drugs, or drugs intended for free distribution among war veterans and the disabled, have almost disappeared from drugstores.
Last month, State Duma Speaker Gryzlov said dismissals alone would not help address the drug shortage, and suggested that Zurabov's ministry should be divided into two bodies - to oversee labor and welfare, and healthcare and the medical equipment and pharmaceutical industry.
Andrei Isayev, head of the State Duma committee for labor and welfare, said Monday the house's council would consider a relevant draft resolution Tuesday, which would be passed on to a State Duma plenary session Wednesday.
The draft resolution also envisages measures to develop a separate state program that would cover recipients of free drugs. MPs will also urge the government to solve problems in the social insurance and pension systems and on the labor market.