MINSK, 24 May (BelTA) – It is necessary to sort out problems with district hospitals and to make sure that patients are treated with kindness and in a caring manner, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at a meeting to discuss the most pressing healthcare issues in the country on 23 May, BelTA has learned.
Prosecutor General Andrei Shved was among the speakers at the meeting. The supervisory agency conducted its own inspection of healthcare institutions simultaneously with a special working group and the State Control Committee.
“In December last year you gave specific instructions to put things to rights in healthcare. However, the inspection revealed the lack of adequate measures to implement these instructions. The Healthcare Ministry has not taken systemic measures to resolve the accumulated problems. It is necessary to ensure efficient coordination between government agencies and healthcare organizations, including through legal regulation,” the prosecutor general said.
According to Andrei Shved, there are problems with rural healthcare facilities. These are neighborhood primary healthcare facilities for rural residents. In some places they are replaced by mobile medical complexes, but this is not always done in a proper manner: rural health stations are closed before a mobile medical center is opened, and villagers have to turn to neighboring communities for medical help.
Other problems include the lack of capacities at some healthcare institutions to conduct cancer screening, long waiting lists for various types of examinations, understaffing, inappropriate spending of extra-budgetary funds, red tape and the pursuit of good performance figures. Yet, some facts shocked even the prosecutor general.
“This year, we have revealed that usable COVID-19 vaccines were thrown into the trash in Minsk Oblast and Gomel Oblast. A total of 6,405 packages were found in landfills and trash bins in these regions. We are starting to investigate it, criminal cases have been initiated, a legal assessment will be given. What we see so far is someone's desire to show good vaccination statistics. In these two incidences alone, the cost of COVID-19 vaccines that were thrown away exceeds Br180,000,” Andrei Shved noted.
He also drew attention to the corruption in the healthcare sector. Last year and this year, prosecutors have already launched more than 60 criminal cases. And this is not just about bribery. “In a number of cases (the legal assessment will be given during investigations), heads of healthcare facilities use the so-called COVID-19 money allocated on your behalf for their own purposes. In particular, some heads of healthcare facilities of Minsk, their deputies, heads of structural divisions used these funds to increase monthly bonuses for themselves by up to 700%. And nurses who worked on the frontline got an increase of just 27-29%. This is a slap in the face for people who directly work in the red zones,” the prosecutor general stressed.
“I'm sitting here and thinking, can we actually treat our people with dignity?” Aleksandr Lukashenko said in response to the report of the prosecutor general. “I am the kind of person who likes to conduct some experiments. Remember Syria. Türkiye, Syria. Especially Syria worried me a lot - a poor, devastated country, the war has been going on there for a long time. An earthquake happened and we had to lend a helping hand. I ordered to send a rescue team there, asked Putin to provide planes (I am grateful to him for giving us these planes at his own expense). Those were mostly military doctors, weren't they? Listen, it was a really good thing to do. Not only Bashar al-Assad, the president, thanked me for this,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The head of state noted that the assistance of Belarusian doctors came in handy: “With the war going on, medical care was unavailable there. And people rushed to our doctors. Our people received everyone. They gave medicines, measured temperature, removed teeth, they did everything. There were long, long queues to get to them. They worked around-the-clock and their work was very appreciated. What does this mean? It means that we can help. We know how to do it. Sometimes a person needs just basic things. And this is exactly what we are talking about today – the provision of primary healthcare services in villages, small towns, agro-towns, district centers. We are talking about these people. They need to be treated well,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
“A hospital was transferred thousands of kilometers from here and set up within a very short period of time. I don't know what kind of medical care it provided, but people were very happy. And here we have well-kept facilities, district hospitals. But are they really maintained so well? Can't a district administration put a local hospital in order? This is because of mismanagement of governors and their subordinates. They are the only ones to blame. Anyone would contribute some money to put such a hospital to rights because they might need this hospital. Sluggards! Unless you mend your ways, you will have to talk to a prosecutor one day,” the Belarusian leader warned.