Direct Line with Minister of Healthcare: key questions and answers

The Russian healthcare minister answered questions from social network users

Russian Healthcare Minister Mikhail Murashko told social network users about what a “long Covid” is, when to expect a coronavirus vaccine in the regions, why you must go to a specialist doctor through a therapist, and many other nuances of healthcare of Russia. Realnoe Vremya selected the most important and significant responses from the minister.

Vaccines — when can we expect it and what should we be afraid of?

A lot of questions were asked at the meeting with the minister about vaccination this season — first of all, against the flu, since the vaccination campaign is already underway. Murashko said that it is planned to cover up to 60% of the population across the country with vaccinations. But the ministry of healthcare still receives the questions: “How do I buy a vaccine?" (which is provided for a state account, free of charge) or “Is it really dangerous?"

“The vaccines are absolutely safe — such a high level of control has been introduced," Murashko assured the audience. Control is carried out both at the manufacturer's level and in the laboratory before being released into civil circulation, he added.

The first stage of flu vaccine deliveries has been completed in all regions, and the second stage is now starting, the minister added. According to him, the state has allocated an additional 4 billion rubles for the purchase of vaccines for the regions. “We see that the population today is very actively going to medical organisations for vaccination," said Murashko. And he asked the audience to wear masks during the trip to the clinics for the vaccine.

But no less questions are raised by Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, whose mass use is probably only a matter of time. However, Murashko said: a person who has developed immunity to the coronavirus after an infection may not be vaccinated this season.

Murashko added that, according to the government decree, there is a resource that aggregates data on all cases. The data on all those who have been vaccinated will also be published. The system is still running in test mode. “This will allow us to create a data resource for all patients who are already immune and protected," he said.

Mass deliveries of the coronavirus vaccine to the regions are expected in late autumn, Murashko said, around the end of October and November. The first industrial batches have already been released and are now undergoing quality control.

What “long Covid” is

Now the attention of the health sector as a whole is focused, of course, on minimising the harm from infectious diseases, Murashko states. We are talking about both COVID-19 and seasonal viral respiratory infections. Due to the health consequences associated with coronavirus, the term “long Covid” is now in use — as the minister explains, this is not only the disease itself but also the problems that arise after it.

At the same time, it is still possible to deal with the negative effects of COVID-19. In Russia, the number of patients with coronavirus who are in serious condition is steadily decreasing, Murashko states.

“Despite some fluctuations in the incidence in a particular region, we see that the number of serious patients requiring resuscitation protection remains stable and decreases from month to month. This suggests that the development of uniform rules for patient treatment — today it is called “Temporary guidelines” — allows us to manage this situation well," he said.

How preventive medical examination is going

The coronavirus pandemic has had little impact on the Healthcare national project, at least in terms of its scale, Healthcare Minister Mikhail Murashko said yesterday. The most noticeable change was the issue of medical examinations: during the period of active measures, it was suspended, and now medical institutions are increasing their pace. At the same time, as Murashko notes, medical examination is one of the main directions that affects life expectancy.

“Today, the regions are joining. We suspended the medical examination programme in the spring. From August, we allowed these programmes to resume, as delay may be critical. In August-September, 2,5 million people underwent medical examinations.

Mobile complexes played a role here, especially they were in demand in rural areas.

As for construction under the national project, most regions are going “at a good pace”, Murashko reports. At the same time, the national project integrates the modernisation of primary care and infectious diseases. These issues are currently under consideration by the government.

The modernization of the primary care system, paramedic and midwifery centres begins on January 1, 2021. First of all, we are talking about the construction of midwifery centres, the repair of existing equipment and the supply of new equipment and vehicles.

Why do I need to make an appointment with a therapist to see a specialist?

One of the most popular (and, apparently, eternal) questions from users was: “Why do I need to make an appointment with a therapist first to see a specialist? Is it because there are not enough specialists?" Murashko gave a detailed answer:

“The consulting physician of each patient is the therapist, who has the greatest amount of information. He or she also prepares patients for consultation. The patient's requests or complaints may be related not to the organs that the patient thinks about, and the final decision will be made by the therapist. There is a list of narrow specialists to whom the appointment is made directly, but there are also specialists to whom you can come through a therapist. This system works all over the world," the minister explained.

Where to get doctors

Questions about midwifery centres are also received from the regions. For example, users asked when the midwifery centres will be restored in their region (the question came from Volgograd Oblast) and what is being done to ensure that doctors come to them.

Murashko replied that in Volgograd Oblast, 31 midwifery centres were launched in 2019, and three more will be opened this year. However, it is important not only to launch a point — it is important to find who will iwork there.

“As for the availability of the healthcare worker, this is the most expensive resource in healthcare. This is also due to the duration of education, which is 6 years or more, with additional training," said the minister.

There are a number of programmes for this purpose, both federal and regional ones. Among the first — County Doctor and County Paramedic programmes, which provide doctors with a large relocation allowance to villages. Regional programmes provide housing to doctors in certain regions: Amur Oblast funds the construction of midwife centres with living quarters, Sakhalin Oblast — housing is built with the right of transfer of ownership after a certain period of work.

Murashko also told about another “bonus” — this time for medical students who participate in the activities to combat coronavirus. It turned out that they will receive preferences when admission to residency. “And these are very popular preferences," Murashko added.

A resident of Belgorod complained about the closure of a “people's” laboratory

Olga Buyanova from Belgorod told the minister that in her city, the clinic and diagnostic centre is closing the laboratory where children are tested — as she described, “the only laboratory that parents trust”.

The minister was aware of the problem, the corresponding appeal was received by the ministry of healthcare. “The laboratory will not be closed, it will continue to work as before," he assured. However, he added that the situation with the closure of some laboratories in the regions fits into the general trend of consolidation of laboratory facilities.

“Today, there are more and more automated laboratories that give the opportunity to conduct a large number of analyses with high accuracy, and more regions are following the path of consolidation. The material is collected in a polyclinic or hospital, and then it is sent to “mini-factories”, where many tests are made simultaneously in a short period of time," the minister said.

There are no mandatory conditions for centralisation, Murashko added. Besides, not all types of research can be centralised.

By Alexander Artemyev