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Russia's child population down by seven million over ten years

Moscow, 29 September: Russia's Ministry of Health and Social Development is concerned by the fall in the number of children in the country and by the increase in illness and invalidity among children, says material the ministry has presented for discussion at the Russian cabinet sitting on Thursday [29 September].

The sitting will look at the concept for children's healthcare for the period up to 2010 and at the plan for implementing it.

A source in the Russian government has told Interfax that it is expected that the draft concept will require significant improvement, since it does not contain any integral measures, or deadlines, or indicators on the basis of which tasks can be regarded as implemented.

The material to be presented by the Ministry of Health and Social Development says that over the last ten years the child population has fallen by seven million to about 30 million currently.

The ministry's specialists have been drawing the government's attention to the worsening health of parents. This has led to a situation where, in 2004, 32.3 per cent of births were normal, the rest being accompanied by complications. [Passage omitted: general detail]

Illness among newborns has increased by 32 per cent over ten years and there has been an increase of 42.5 per cent in illness among children of up to 14 years; 64 per cent for children between 15 and 17.

[Passage omitted: general detail]

There has been a two-hundred-per-cent increase in cancer among children over the last ten years. The number of children with diabetes also increased and at the beginning of the year stood at 17,000. [Passage omitted]

"By the end of schooling one in four children is short-sighted, to a degree which seriously limits them in subsequent professional training and work," the ministry's document says. [Passage omitted]

Infant mortality in Russia remains quite high. About 22,000 children die a year, according to the ministry.