Russian women step up to fill healthcare gap

Women in Russia have decided to take healthcare matters into their own hands after the government has closed down many rural hospitals over recent years.

Victoria Wystepek
Victoria Wystepek NewsMavens, Europe
Russian women step up to fill healthcare gap - NewsMavens
Russian House, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

Some women in the small village of Novy Usad in central Russia have undergone medical training to provide first aid care to their neighbors. The village has only one nurse and no medical facility. A second nurse was laid off a few years ago and the local medical clinic was shut down for repairs and never reopened. 

Maria Veldina is part of the growing number of volunteers who provide first aid to the community. She recently provided care to a neighbor who was involved in a chainsaw accident. 

“The man was working quickly and a chainsaw got in his way. He hit himself hard with the axe. So we treated him,” she recalled.

In recent years, Russia has been cutting spending in healthcare and shutting down medical facilities in rural areas. In 2000, Russia had 115 hospital beds for every 10,000 people. In 2015, that number has decreased to just 83 beds for every 10,000 people. Many hospitals are located in urban centers, so it can be more difficult to find a hospital in rural areas which tend to have more elderly people in need of medical care. The lack of access to proper medical care has prompted more women like Ms. Veldina to train themselves in first aid to perform services from the serious, such as treating chainsaw injuries, to the basic, such as monitoring someone’s blood pressure.

Details from the story:

  • The number of Russian hospitals has decreased from 10,700 in 2000 to 5,400 in 2015.
  • The number of Russian outpatient medical facilities has decreased from 21,300 in 2000 to 18,600 in 2015.
  • Most of the women who are training in first aid are pensioners.
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