MINSK, 18 July (BelTA) – Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has convened a meeting to discuss the state of affairs in healthcare as well as postgraduate training of medical professionals, BelTA has learned.
The head of state wanted to know how the healthcare system is operating under the sanctions: “Our country has been subjected to the harshest sanctions. Probably, no other country in the world with similar capacities, size, economy, etc., has come under such sanctions. Therefore, we cannot say that these sanctions have no effect on the healthcare system. However, we are not complaining much, we are standing our ground, we are working. And we seem to be working well.”
The participants of the meeting were to consider a draft decree prepared by the Healthcare Ministry. The draft decree provides for the transition to a new form of postgraduate training of doctors – clinical residency.
“You know my attitude to any kind of innovations. Firstly, they should not break the existing system, if this system works. If the system is not efficient, it must be changed dramatically. If we believe that our healthcare system is fine, if we are proud of it, and if it proved resilient to the coronavirus pandemic, it means that the system is functioning well. Therefore, we are not going to break it,” the head of state emphasized at the beginning of the meeting.
In other words, it should not be about fundamental changes, but about improving the system of personnel training for medicine, Aleksandr Lukashenko clarified. “It is imperative that we keep improving it. If the proposals of the Healthcare Ministry seek to make the system better, then let's listen to what the minister has to say. He will try to persuade us that this is a step forward.”
“Secondly, any modifications should reflect the realities of the situation and should be relevant. Any change should be well-timed; we should bring it in when we realize that we have reached a deadlock and cannot move forward and need to take action. Has our healthcare reached such a stage that we need to improve the system through residency?” the head of state asked.
According to the president, the improvement of the healthcare sector is one of the priorities for the government. “Let's not belittle our achievements in healthcare. In recent years, the Belarusian healthcare system has made significant strides. A lot is being done in this field,” the Belarusian leader stated. According to him, in recent years many social facilities have been upgraded and built, including healthcare facilities, no matter how hard it has been. The head of state emphasized that budgetary funds earmarked for these purposes should be used smartly, frugally: “Let us upgrade this or that system, including healthcare, but let's not build palaces. We are not so rich as to build a palace of a hospital.”
At the same time, it is important to maintain a balance so as not to turn into a miser who pays twice, as a famous proverb goes. As an example, Aleksandr Lukashenko cited the construction of a compact and functional building of the medical center in Minsk District where civil servants and ordinary people can receive highly qualified medical care, as well as the transfer of the former building of the center to the city of Minsk.
“You need to come to your senses, as people say, draw in your horns and build only what you need. In fact, when a construction project is funded by the government, many chief physicians (they call the shots in the process) think: This is not my money, and not even that of the hospital; it is budgetary funds. However, if a lot of money is spent on construction projects, then how will we be able to raise salaries of medical workers, teachers, as well as pension benefits? Therefore, we need to be more frugal. We have built so many museums and other cultural facilities... all of them are funded by the budget. No one gives their own private funds, and even state-owned enterprises do not donate money to museums, theaters and cinemas, everything is financed by the budget. Therefore, we need to be more prudent,” the president noted.
However, this does not mean that there is no need to upgrade and improve healthcare facilities, the Belarusian leader stressed. “We should keep doing it. But we should not destroy something completely, but rather recondition, because they [the buildings housing healthcare facilities] are in a pretty good shape,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
It is also important that during upgrade projects, healthcare facilities at all levels are equipped with modern expensive equipment. “This is something that requires your utmost attention,” the head of state warned.
According to him, Belarus has a well-established system of medical care - from first-aid stations to national medical centers; cutting-edge methods of diagnostics and treatment are being actively introduced. “The system has been built, the medical education is good, medical students are trained. People come here even from China and other countries for education. This means that our education system is not bad, at least medical education. If there are any flaws, this is the fault of rectors," the head of state noted.
The medical education in Belarus is based on scientific advancements and a wealth of practical experience, Aleksandr Lukashenko stated. In recent years, much has been done in the field of practice-based professional training; simulation and smart technologies are being developed, and university clinics are operating. “In this regard, the training of qualified specialists remains a key task and it should meet the future needs of public healthcare,” the president noted.
Speaking about the proposed draft decree, the head of state stressed that innovations are, of course, needed, especially given the geopolitical transformations in the world and the sanctions. “We need to improve our own system, introduce the best and the most advanced solutions. Yet, we should not blindly adopt foreign standards,” the Belarusian leader said.