Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
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MOSCOW, February 11, 2003. /from RIA Novosti correspondent Nikolai Makarov/. Over the last decade the level of infant mortality in Russia has been nearly halved.

If in the early 1990s 23 out of each thousand children died, last year's figures suggest only 13 deaths in a thousand infants, Deputy Health Minister Olga Sharapova told journalists. According to her, such a significant drop in infant mortality could be accounted for by the increased number of resuscitation units and wards in children's hospitals.

Olga Sharapova noted that by the end of next year the number of beds in resuscitation departments at maternity homes was expected to double from today's 500 beds to 1,000.

The level of mortality among children under 14 could not be reduced in the last years, it has remained unchanged over the last decade, the Deputy Health Minister said. According to Sharapova, 8,000 children die annually, the leading causes of death being poisoning and traumatism. 2,000 children commit suicide.

Half of the children die on the scene or on the way to hospitals, that is why the Health Ministry intended to devise special courses on first aid, particularly for police officers, the Deputy Health Minister stressed. Besides, children's hospitals are expected to be equipped with toxicological and chemical laboratories, while children's trauma rehabilitation service will also be stepped up, Olga Sharapova said in conclusion.

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