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Russian president's watchdog reports poor state of health care system 

Moscow, 27 January: Annual turnover of fake medicines in Russia may be as big as 200m dollars but the Health Ministry's pharmaceutical inspections detect only a small portion of them (just R7m last year), according to a report by the president's Main Monitoring Directorate [GKU] that is available on the Kremlin's web site at www.kremlin.ru.

Specialists from the GKU, have inspected the Health Ministry, the federal compulsory health insurance fund and several regions, and come to the conclusion that "the measures they are taking to supply citizens with free and quality medical assistance that is guaranteed by the state have not produced the desired effect".

The rate of primary sickness has grown by almost 10 per cent in the last 10 years. In 2001, 32m people were hospitalized, which is 600,000 more than in the previous year.

Despite growing appropriations for the development of the industry, they account for about 3.5 per cent of GDP, although the permissible minimum established by the World Health Organization is 5 per cent.

"Existing mechanisms of financial levelling out of conditions for the operation of health institutions in regions do not give citizens equal access to free medical services guaranteed by the state", GKU said.

The federal compulsory health insurance fund accumulates about R4bn a year for further distribution, while specialists say this sum must be increased at least fivefold. The gap in per capita financing of territorial programmes in the regions in 2000 was 13 times, in 2001 - 15 times.

Insufficient financing and growing prices of medicines make it impossible to meet the needs of medical institutions and citizens who enjoy certain benefits for necessary and quality medicines. In 2001, they were met by less than 80 per cent.

The existing system of drug certification and quality control is imperfect and does not guarantee safety. According to the Internal Affairs Ministry, faked medicines account for up to 7 per cent of the Russian pharmaceutical market.

The GKU report says that the wear and tear of medical equipment in Russia exceeds 60 per cent, and that of buildings and facilities 50 per cent.

The results of the inspections were reported to the president and the government.
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