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Russia Healthcare

The constitution of Russia guarantees free, universal healthcare for all citizens. While Russia has more physicians, hospitals and healthcare workers than almost any other country in the world, since the collapse of the Soviet Union the health of the Russian population has declined considerably as a result of social, economic and lifestyle changes. As of 2007, the average life expectancy in Russia is 61.5 years for males and 73.9 years for females. The average Russian life expectancy of 67.7 years at birth is 10.8 years shorter than the overall figure in the European Union. The biggest factor contributing to this relatively low life expectancy for males is a high mortality rate among working-age males from preventable causes (eg alcohol poisoning, stress, smoking, traffic accidents, violent crimes). Mortality among Russian men rose by 60% since 1991, four to five times higher than in Europe. As a result of the large difference in life expectancy between men and women and because of the lasting effect of World War II, where Russia lost more men than any other nation in the world, the gender imbalance remains to this day and there are 0.859 males to every female.

In an effort to stem Russia’s demographic crisis, the government is implementing a number of programs designed to increase the birth rate and attract more migrants to alleviate the problem. The government has doubled monthly child support payments and offered a one-time payment of 250,000 Rubles (around US$10,000) to women who had a second child since 2007. In 2007, Russia saw the highest birth rate since the collapse of the USSR The First Deputy PM also said about 20 billion rubles (about US$1 billion) will be invested in new prenatal centres in Russia in 2008-2009. Immigration is increasingly seen as necessary to sustain the country's population.

It is unusual for expatriates to contract any diseases in Russia, and most encounter no significant health problems as a result of living in Russia, but it is important to have the recommended immunisations and to take appropriate health precautions. Expatriates are often afflicted with depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder in winter.

The tap water is not safe for drinking and should be boiled to avoid gastrointestinal infections. Bottled water is widely available. Dairy products are safe, but meat and fish should be well cooked, fruit should be peeled and vegetables cooked.

All foreign citizens who are living and working in Russia are required to have private medical insurance – this is a pre-requisite of being issued a visa. Private western-style healthcare is quite expensive and it is usually necessary to pay for treatment up front. Typically, a single consultation costs around US$120. There are good private clinics in Moscow and St Petersburg, with western-trained doctors. There is also an American dental clinic in Moscow. Expatriates requiring specialist medical treatment often fly to Helsinki or return to their home countries.





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