The “hospital business” in Chechnya
By Ramzan Akhmadov
CHECHNYA – In order to receive treatment at hospitals in Chechnya patients need above all to have money. Neither the existence of compulsory medical insurance, nor disability, nor any other circumstance spares them from having to give the doctors financial incentives.
"A couple of weeks ago my 20-year-old niece was in the central maternity hospital. She told me about the practices that exist there," says 44-year-old Grozny resident Birlant Matsayeva. "She had to pay the midwives fifteen hundred roubles. And everyone thought it was quite acceptable because some other pregnant mothers had to pay three thousand."
"Not only that, but for each test she underwent she had to pay a hundred roubles. She paid separately for injections, tablets and other medications. When she was discharged her family gave the midwife 500 roubles. That’s the kind of ‘tax’ you have to pay here. And yet Grozny’s central maternity hospital bears the name of Aymani Kadyrova (the mother of the republic’s president, Ramzan Kadyrov), and is supplied by the republic with all necessities, including high salaries for the medical personnel. Earlier, the patients were even warned not to make any payments to anyone, but the system of bribery continues to exist here in more concealed forms. Incidentally, this also applies to the republic’s other medical institutions," Birlant asserts.
The patients in Chechen hospitals also complain that when entering the facility they have to take with them complete sets of bedding, all the way from mattresses and blankets to the other items.
Alongside Chechnya’s state health institutions there are also a number of private hospitals. They differ from the state ones only to the extent that the doctors who practise there take much more money from their clients.
"I had some problems with my health and because I don’t have much faith in the doctors in our hospitals, I decided to turn to the private practitioners. There‘s a private clinic in Grozny called Zdorovye (‘Health’). Well, I went to see a urologist there and explained my problem to him. He listened to me and immediately sent me for ultrasound scan," says 33-year-old Sultan Azniyev. "I had to pay 200 roubles for the consultation, and another 300 for the scan. I also had to take some tests, which came to a hundred roubles."
"I went back to see the doctor with the results of the ultrasound scan. He look at them and told mer I had prostatitis. He explained that is a very complex disease which requires lengthy treatment. Then he asked me if planned to begin the course of treatment. On receiving an affirmative answer, he said it would cost me 2,300 roubles. Taking the money, he wrote me a prescription which I then took to a pharmacy. There I paid 1,500 roubles for some medication which had to be taken within one month," he continues.
"A month later, I went to see this doctor again. He spent about five minutes asking me about my state of health and then wrote me another prescription. Again for one month. I had to back to the pharmacy and pay another 2,000 for medication. Well, I complete the full course of treatment. But my health didn’t really improve as a result. So by writing those two prescriptions, this ‘doctor’ jad fleeced me over more than 2,000 roubles," the man says.
In Chechnya there are private pharmacies next to almost every hospital. Local residents claim that the drugs and medicines which come from the Ministry of Health and should be issued free of charge to patients. Moreover, doctors usually recommend to their patients that they should their medication at the pharmacy where they have their “own” retailer, explaining that it is only there that genuine, not counterfeit, medication can be obtained.
"I don’t understand how medicine can be officially considered free if patients have to pay every step of the way?" Rosa Makhmudov says angrily. "I have a three-month old child and I have to go to the clinic for a regular medical checkup and other treatment. For each consultation I have to pay the pediatrician 100 roubles. The other doctors charge the same. And this in a public clinic where the doctors get fixed salaries and other benefits. Yet I’ve noticed that our doctors constantly complain that their salaries are too low. I think they’re completely shameless and brazen. They’re only interested in money. Where is their ’Hippocratic Oath’?"
(Translation by DM)
(T) RELATED ARTICLES:
· The price of free medical services (nebolei.ru, 2.9. 2007)