Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko paid a visit to Mogilev Oblast Hospital during his trip to Mogilev on 15 December.
The head of state got familiar with the operation of the medical institution, including medical assistance to coronavirus patients. Chief doctor of the hospital Anatoly Kulik told Aleksandr Lukashenko that a cardiac surgery unit is being built on the territory of the hospital. It is planned that the new unit will be commissioned in November 2021.
According to the chief doctor, the medical institution employs some 1,500 specialists. Some 350 out of 853 beds have been allocated for coronavirus patients. At present 108 of them are vacant. “A decline in COVID-19 cases has been registered over the past week,” the chief doctor said.
“The southern parts of the country are doing well. Mogilev Oblast is somewhere in the middle. It is a little worse here than in the southern regions because it did not have the first wave in full,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.
The President visited several coronavirus departments and talked to “red zone” doctors and patients. Then the head of state met with the staff of the hospital. Aleksandr Lukashenko asked the doctors who of them had had coronavirus. “A half! There was 20-25% in Minsk, not more,” he was surprised at the number of hands raised. “You and I have no time to be sick now. The year ends and a new year begins. The New Year in general is a family holiday. I wish you to stay healthy on the eve of the new year and in the new year, too. Although, as doctors, you understand that this is almost impossible in our lives,” he said.
The head of state also liked the area where Mogilev Oblast Hospital has been built. This area used to be surrounded by fields; now new hospital units have been built here. “Thank God the forest has not been cut down. We need to plant more trees here. We will find a place to build housing for the residents of Mogilev. It is a good hospital, one of the best places in the country where the regional hospital is located. The hospital is nice and clean, at least the parts I saw,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko thanked the staff of Mogilev Oblast Hospital and all healthcare workers in Belarusian regions for their good work during the pandemic.
“You are amazing. You are doing your job calmly and smoothly,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. In the current situation, doctors are utilizing the experience gained during the first wave of the pandemic. The President even compared their level of expertise with the skills of the Red Army at the start and at the end of the Great Patriotic War. “We went through this in that period, learned how to fight this disease, and now the army [of healthcare workers] is nor the army of 1941. The army in 1941 and the army in 1944 were two different armies. Well done!” the Belarusian President stressed.
The head of state also thanked the doctors of other specialties who had to learn quickly and help treat coronavirus patients. According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, the number of pneumonias, severe cases, and patients on ventilators has recently plateaued in the country.
The President said he liked the location of the hospital surrounded by coniferous trees and shared the thoughts he had on the journey to Mogilev. This time, the head of state traveled by car. “On my way here, I was thinking what a beautiful country we have! Most importantly, when everybody in the world were chasing big money (that mostly comes from environmentally damaging industries), we kept Belarus out of it. I hope it remains a beautiful country for us, for our children and grandchildren,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.
The head of state was also briefed on the construction of a cardiac surgery facility on the hospital grounds. The hospital asked for help with equipping it. The President promised to help purchase modern equipment for the new facility.
At the meeting with the healthcare workers The President said that the main task of doctors is to treat people, while the government will take care of everything else.
“If we have an extra penny we will spend it on healthcare. Nothing is more precious than life. Your task is to treat people, we will provide the rest, no matter how difficult it might be,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The head of state recalled that in the autumn Belarus received a loan from the Eurasian Development Bank. According to him, initially the money was to be used to bolster the economy amidst the pandemic, but in the end, the most of it was spent to support the healthcare system, in particular, to pay bonuses to healthcare workers. “I thought I would invest this $500 million in the economy to secure GDP growth this year. No country has achieved this. And then the second surge of the infection began ... The money had to be spent not only on bonuses, but also on medicines. If we have extra money, of course, we will give it to healthcare workers, first of all,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The head of state noted that the pandemic delivered a severe blow even to the world’s most powerful economies. Only China has managed to hold its ground. Belarus is also showing good results. “The economy is at the heart of everything. If the economy keeps going, everything will be fine. This year our GDP will be slightly below last year’s, by less than a percent. We tried to sell our products, our agricultural workers deserve the highest praise. In other words, we are doing our best,” the President said.
At the same time, he assured that the Belarusian economy will retain its social focus. “A teacher, a doctor, a worker - they want things to be fair,” the head of state added.
During the meeting with the personnel of the hospital the President emphasized the necessity to preserve the integrity and sovereignty of the country. Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed: “I want you to understand my position. It has not changed: let’s work together, let’s preserve the country (and we will preserve it whatever the cost, and not for me or for him, but for grandchildren). It is my key task. You will make all the decisions. I promise you that you will decide on everything.”
The President pointed out that this statement also applies to amendments to the Constitution, which are now being prepared specifically taking into account proposals and interests of Belarusian citizens.
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted he does not intend to hold on to power by any means necessary, however, he has no intention of surrendering the country by giving up either. “I want you to know I am not going to flee anywhere. No way,” he stated. “It is good that time has passed and people saw who tried to grab the power.”
The development of Belarus’ coronavirus vaccine might cost Br5 million, Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with the staff of the hospital.
The head of state noted that Belarus’ immunization plan encompasses three components: purchasing a ready-made vaccine soon to vaccinate high-risk groups, producing a Russian vaccine in the country, and developing Belarus’ own vaccine.
“I am very glad that our scientists have set their sights on the development of our own vaccine. I am sure that we will not be able to completely eliminate this infection [coronavirus]. It will stay with us like the flu. So we need a vaccine. We need our own vaccine, we have specialists who can develop it. We must take it up and not be afraid. I have looked at the financial side – it does not require a lot of money, about five million rubles. It will pay back, we just need to move quickly,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.
The President is sure that Belarusian scientists are able to cope with this task. This matter will soon be discussed at a meeting hosted by the head of state.