Aleksandr Lukashenko meets with Belarus Healthcare Minister Vasily Zharko

    President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko has demanded to make sure that people are provided with high-quality healthcare services. The matter was discussed at a meeting with Healthcare Minister Vasily Zharko on 4 February.

    Top on the agenda of the meeting was the draft law on introducing amendments and additions to the law “Concerning healthcare”.

    At the beginning of the meeting Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that he would not invite the minister to discuss the amendments if they did not involve additional spending and changes in the healthcare system.

    The President emphasized: “First, I am surprised, because the minister and the government suggest shifting at least part of the expenses to people. More than that, the amendments provide for additional spending on some services in in-patient clinics. It does not agree with your suggestions”.

    “I will say unpopular things once again: health does not cost anything here. People in Belarus are not used to taking care of their health. We know by our own experience that if we followed doctors’ recommendations and learnt from our experience, we would fall sick two times less. Here some people get drunk, break a leg and get treatment for free at the expense of other people. Smoking is another way to ruin your health,” the head of state said.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced that a greater focus should be made on promoting a healthy lifestyle.

    The President stated: “Instead of doing sports, some people here drink alcohol and stay at home although they are fully aware that it will not make them healthier, quite the opposite. In the West they made all people pay for healthcare services. Of course, we are not ready to demand that our people should pay in full for hospital stays and treatment. Not ready.”

    At the same time Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that as salaries rise, the matter will get top on the agenda again. “I think we spend pretty much to keep people healthy. We spend huge money, billions of dollars on healthcare upgrade and have made big progress here. Of course, we cover part of the expenses by providing healthcare services to foreigners, it is also an option. The question today is the following: shall we spend additional funds or not,” the President asked.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko thinks that Belarus should stay where it is. People should be provided with high-quality healthcare services and a good attitude by doctors.

    “I wonder if it will cause a chain reaction: teachers might also want the same as doctors. Therefore the matter should be approached very carefully, because it involves trillions of rubles,” the President said.

    Vasily Zharko informed that the Healthcare Ministry is working to optimize spending on healthcare facilities and upgrade projects. In his view, there are enough hospital beds to treat patients.

    He noted that the new draft law envisages a number of additions related to disease prevention, reproductive health and confidentiality. In particular, the draw law suggests expanding the list of people who will be able to get access to this information upon their request. In line with the draft law, more healthcare services will be provided to patients at home. The draft law will also require patients who inflicted harm on themselves as a result of alcohol or drug abuse to compensate for healthcare services provided to them.