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Presentation of state decorations to medical workers

June 20, 2011, Gorki, Moscow Region

Dmitry Medvedev presented decorations and certificates conferring honorary titles to 29 medical workers from healthcare sector organisations from around Russia.

The ceremony marked Medical Workers’ Day, which falls on June 19.


Speech at ceremony presenting state decorations to medical workers

President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Friends,

I wish you all a warm welcome today, and through you send my greetings to all medical workers and congratulate you all on your professional holiday. I sincerely wish you good health and take this opportunity to thank you all for the difficult job you do. 

People often say that being a doctor is not a job but a vocation, and banal though these words may be, they are very true. There is perhaps no other profession in the world that calls for such empathy and giving of oneself. Of course, being a true professional is never easy in any field, but an indifferent person could never do the kind of work that you do.

You represent different areas of the healthcare sector, but what unites you all is your readiness to help others and perform your medical duties, whether in providing basic aid or complex medical care.

I will not go through you all by name. The people here with the list will do this job in excellent fashion. I just want to note one thing, and that is that in two days’ time, we mark 70 years since the start of the Great Patriotic War.

During the Great Patriotic War, our medical workers, like others, laboured in the most arduous conditions and performed heroic feats every day. I therefore want to name just one of those being decorated today: Veniamin Volkov, who took part in those heroic events. From 1942 to 1945, Mr Volkov was a doctor in the active army and has devoted his entire life since then to the Leningrad Academy of Military Medicine. He will receive the Order for Services to the Fatherland today.


I also want to say that it is the state authorities’ duty to give the healthcare sector particular attention. The main thing is for the authorities to have the money to be able to do this.

I think the situation is substantially better today than it was ten years ago. You can see these changes for yourselves. Of course, to speak in medical language, we have not got the whole situation sterilised yet, and difficulties remain, but our healthcare system is modernising nonetheless. Of course, people have different views on this modernisation process. Some think things should be done differently; some recall the Soviet-era medical system. This is all a matter of choice. All I would say is that what we need is a modern medical system, not the Soviet-era system, no matter how well we view it, all the more so as we remember it well, all of us who were born and grew up in the Soviet Union, rather than the new Russia, anyway.

It is essential to get new people into the healthcare sector. Experienced specialists need to be able to hand over their work to new doctors. We need to give these new people the proper training and improve the medical education system. It is also essential to establish a network of clinics using advanced technology and capable of providing the very latest medical services. I think that in this area we have already made some progress over the last few years. We are putting more money into fundamental research now, and are investing considerable sums in developing the regional healthcare systems. Let me remind you that we have allocated 618 billion rubles [around $23 billion] for these purposes this year.

We are all following demographic developments very closely. The authorities are investing money in this area too, and you are all familiar with the programmes we are carrying out. I think that some of them have produced some decent results and are starting to have an effect. We will continue our work to protect motherhood and childhood, and continue our support for the maternity system. In short, we will continue in the direction we have followed over the recent period.

The main thing, in my view, is that these billions we spend produce results and get put to the most effective use possible. It was easy in the 1990s to justify the situation in the healthcare sector, as in the education sector, the armed forces, and practically the entire public sector, by pointing to lack of money. This excuse will not work today, because the country does have money now. The question is how to spend it wisely so as to provide the healthcare sector with the new equipment it needs, and make sure that our doctors are decently paid. This goes for medical workers at all the different levels. In short, we still have plenty of work to do, as you know very well.

Once again, I wish you all good health and good spirits.

* * *

Friends, first of all, you have all received your decorations now, and I congratulate you on this occasion. 

Let me just add a couple of words regarding the important matters our colleagues raised just before. I agree totally that we need to completely overhaul the entire system of medical equipment and develop Russian-made equipment.

We have lost a lot, it is true, but I would not agree that nothing remains now and we have been completely squeezed out of the medical equipment market. I travel a lot around the country and often visit various enterprises producing medical equipment and supplies. They produce a wide range of goods. The problem is that our equipment does not always stand up to competition with foreign models. This is an issue that not just those who place the orders, but also those producing the goods need to address. You all know this very well yourselves, and there is nothing to hide. Performance can vary even when we’re dealing with one and the same type of equipment. This should encourage our medical goods industry to produce better models, and then we will have a reason to buy them. But even now, Russian-made medical equipment accounts for a sizeable share of the overall market. (Addressing Healthcare and Social Development Minister Tatyana Golikova) What is the percentage, Ms Golikova?

Healthcare and Social Development Minister Tatyana Golikova: Ten percent.

Dmitry Medvedev: There we go, ten percent, that’s already something. It is not such a small figure really, especially if you compare the situation, say, 5–7 years ago, when we only just launched the national project. Of course we need to raise this figure. But this is a two-way street. The state authorities need to do their part, but the manufacturers also need to realise that competition is a serious and necessary business in the world today, and their goods need to be of the highest quality and competitively priced. 

I also fully support the idea that doctors working not just in Moscow, St Petersburg, and other big cities, but all around the country, should have the chance to perfect their skills and prepare and conduct experiments, confirm the experimental results they obtain. This whole process should not be limited to just the most advanced kinds of research underway in Moscow, St Petersburg and the other big cities.

I hope the Healthcare Ministry will take note of this, and the regions too. The same applies to the idea of according grants for research in the medical field. These are normal practices, and we should definitely create additional grants at the federal level, and also grants accorded at the regional level, because the regions also have sizeable funds that need to be properly spent.

There are other problems too that were not mentioned, but that you all know. The task is keep working, without sudden spurts, but steadily and consistently, on modernising the healthcare system, preserving the best in its achievements to date, while at the same time getting rid of what is no longer effective and building a modern healthcare system worthy of our people. They believe in you, and of course they appreciate you very much.

I congratulate you most warmly on this holiday.

June 20, 2011, Gorki, Moscow Region