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25 January 2024, 12:15

Lukashenko appoints new healthcare minister

MINSK, 25 January (BelTA) – Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has appointed Aleksandr Khodzhayev as Belarus’ new healthcare minister, BelTA has learned.
 
Prior to this appointment, Aleksandr Khodzhayev headed the National Mental Health Research and Treatment Center, and before that worked in the Main Public Health Directorate of the Healthcare Ministry.

On former minister Pinevich

“I want to make it clear to people and to you that the new appointment does not mean the dismissal of Pinevich [Dmitry Pinevich, who until now led the Healthcare Ministry]. I just see him in a different role. He will work in a different position,” the head of state said.

“He is a young, energetic person. Therefore, no one is going to let him go, figuratively speaking,” the head of state added. “You and Dmitry Leonidovich Pinevich will make a decision: if he wants to work in the healthcare system, I will not object. If not, we have enough vacancies for him where he can work and be useful to the state,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

On personnel reshuffling in the run-up to elections

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that personnel rotation in the run-up to important election campaigns is an established practice in the country: “Naturally, the whole thing did not begin with you. There is personnel rotation going on in all ministries and government agencies. There is nothing new here. In the run-up to parliamentary and presidential elections we have always refreshed the composition of the government and local authorities, oblast executive committees, the Minsk City Council. We did that so that voters could see who we would work with as they would be casting their ballot, they should know whether they would be able to trust this team. I have been doing this for a long time. This time is no exception.”

Lukashenko announces more personnel decisions

“New people have been put in charge of ministries and government agencies, individual enterprises. I’ll emphasize once again: such actions on my part (personnel decisions are a prerogative of the president) will continue in the near future. Right up to the presidential election. I don’t want any kind of insinuations and speculations in mass media,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.

On the eradication of cronyism

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that he carefully studied the candidacy of Aleksandr Khodzhayev, because a healthcare minister is not an ordinary position. “I inquired about your past and present. I have not seen any problems with you. I think that you are capable of heading up the ministry. But we will need to have a look at the ministry itself and its staff. This will be your first task. In line with an established tradition, if anything happens, the minister gets all the flak. Indeed, the minister should take the flak. But others should also share the responsibility for the situation, for the state of affairs. This pertains to deputies, heads of departments, directorates, and so on. Pay attention to this,” the president said.
 
“These should be professionals devoted to their work and the state. This is the most important thing. And I really count on it. I know that you do not belong to any clan. The Healthcare Ministry has the so-called family dynasties, and clans, and so on, all kinds of things... This should stop. I really hope that you will put an end to this. A dedicated person, a professional, a statesman. This person should not just idle away their time and look at a neighboring country thinking how to get there as soon as possible for better financial opportunities or something else. We have already started to deal with it,” the head of state said.

“While some of our self-exiled opposition members are living in the West, their relatives here keep doing what they did before. Just quietly. We see this and are responding. The situation is not easy. We cannot lose the country. Belarus must be a sovereign, independent state that does not create problems for neighbors. And this is a country where our children, grandchildren should live,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.
 
“You should keep this in mind while making appointments, hiring people to work at the ministry and so on. Your big advantage is that you are free from pressure and don’t have obligations to some people,” the Belarusian leader noted.

Medical care in rural areas and small towns

Speaking about the tasks facing Aleksandr Khodzhayev in his new role, the president noted that the work will not be easy, but a lot has already been done by the ministry itself and the commission that was created upon the instruction of the head of state.
 
“They have thoroughly analysed the performance of primary healthcare. You understand perfectly well that villages and small towns should not be left behind. This is the core of our state. There are people in these communities who need medical help. I’m not saying that urban communities will be neglected. But we have improved the situation there by and large, and healthcare is better in urban communities than in rural areas,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.
 
According to the head of state, it is already clear what needs to be done in this regard and certain things have already been done. “I think that this year we will solve the problem with first aid stations, district hospitals, community hospitals, nursing hospitals. And after that we need to take it up a notch,” he emphasized.

On frugality and prospects

Aleksandr Lukashenko wants the healthcare system to be frugal and effective. 

“We need to approach spending with prudence; we need to look at what is happening. We don’t want the same situation that emerged during and after the pandemic when vaccinations were poorly overseen and some vaccines were just thrown into the trash or destroyed on the ground. That cost us a lot of money. There were indeed such facts. There should be no mismanagement. Discipline should be improved,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.

He noted that the country has resolved a number of issues related to the working conditions and salaries for medical professionals. This pertains to financial matters and equipment. “At least we have delivered on the promises that I made to healthcare workers after the pandemic. This includes salaries and equipment for our doctors,” the president said.
 
Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that Aleksandr Khodzhayev is not some random person in the healthcare system; he is aware of what is happening in healthcare in general and in the ministry in particular. And in his high position, the new minister will have to further improve domestic healthcare, which includes efforts to increase the export of medical services.

“We have extended our reach to faraway countries and our competencies are in great demand in developing states, especially Africa. They ask us to help improve, or sometimes even build a healthcare system, assist with the training of doctors. We will have to work there, no matter how difficult it could be,” the head of state said.

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