Public health in the regions

13 February 2019

The panel session ‘Public Health in the Regions’ was held on the opening day of the Russian Investment Forum on 13 February 2019 to kick off the programme of the Healthy Life Forum: Towards 80+.

Taking part in the discussion were: Director of the University Clinic of Lomonosov Moscow State University Armais Kamalov; Russian Deputy Minister of Healthcare Oleg Salagay; Scientific Director at the Federal Research Centre of Nutrition, Biotechnology, and Food Safety Viktor Tutelyan, and others.

The speakers noted that the country faces the global challenges of achieving a breakthrough in various areas of public life and government activities.

One of the key aspects of Russia’s development that was identified during the discussions was the health sector since it directly affects people’s life expectancy.

Investment in healthcare has long produced some of the best returns from a social and economic point of view, while the level of healthcare development is becoming a tool for global competition of states.

Today, federal public health projects are shifting their focus to the regions and local level. According to the model programme of the Russian Ministry of Health, each region and municipality should have its own highly detailed programmes to improve public health by 2024.

In addition to conventional alcohol and tobacco indicators, the regions should also have indicators related to the development of the urban environment. Prevention centres and health centres will need to be transformed into public health centres at the regional and municipal levels. Such centres should become places that provide methodological support for the implementation of public health programmes using modern communication formats.

Commenting on life expectancy, one of the session participants stated that “health should be addressed not from the time of birth, but even before life originates”. In this regard, a lot depends on a person’s nutrition (50.0%) and physical activity (30.0%), according to scientists and research results. The speakers said that “if disease incidence decreases, quality and longevity automatically increase”. During the discussion, the participants recalled a statement made by writer Mikhail Zhvanetsky: “Only treatment can be more precious than health”.

In this connection, there is already a need to create a new medicine funding model in all parts of the system in amounts commensurate with the tasks that they face and with a focus on primary care above all else.

Men’s health was one of the serious problems noted by the speakers. They said that, according to statistics, men today live 11–13 years fewer than women. Therefore, consultations need to be created for men in primary care similar to the way they exist for women.

The participants also noted the importance of male reproductive programmes, which exist for women but not at all for men in the country. The ‘Men’s Health’ project that has been successfully implemented in a number of the country’s regions has not been included in federal healthcare programmes. Without it, it will be impossible to reach the target average life expectancy indicator of 78 years by 2024.

The session participants believe that “health professionals alone clearly won’t be sufficient” for increasing life expectancy in the country. Public health involves medical preventive measures and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle. People need to be motivated to lead a healthy lifestyle and the appropriate conditions need to be created for this. Volunteers are already actively involved in this work.

Concluding the session, the participants noted that improving public health in the country will not only remain a relevant and important task for a long time, but also a multifaceted one. In this work, “human resources decide everything”, as is always the case. Such personnel should be recruited in a responsible and comprehensive manner.

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