Meeting with senior officials of Vitebsk Oblast

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Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko met with senior officials of Vitebsk Oblast on 15 December.

The epidemiological situation connected with COVID-19 was the first topic on the agenda of the meeting. Vladimir Penin, deputy chairman of the Vitebsk Oblast Executive Committee in charge of the social sector, informed the participants of the meeting that the number of COVID-19 cases is falling making up 25% from the latest wave peak. 43% of the population got the first dose of the vaccine. It is expected that this number will increase to 50% by the end of the year.

“There are no big problems in this field. The only thing that we need to mention is that the number of flu cases has increased in recent time,” Vladimir Penin said. “As for COVID-19, everything is under control right now, there are no problems.”

The problem of insufficient funding in healthcare was raised during the meeting. The lack of funds holds back the renovation of healthcare facilities. Renovation is particularly relevant for Vitebsk Oblast Hospital: it was built in the 1980s and since then no major overhaul has been made here. The hospital boasts highly qualified staff, but it is high time to update its equipment, the regional executive committee noted. The regional budget will not handle this.

“Make calculations and report the findings. The regional hospital should be up to the mark. If there is no regional hospital, how can we treat people? This will not do. We have already brought nearly all our regional hospitals up to the standard,” the President said.

“We will find resources no matter what and purchase equipment. And you will do the facelift by yourself. Redouble your efforts in agriculture and manufacturing, collect money, use every opportunity to earn and save, but do the redecoration at least. And I will try to help with equipment. You know that we do not have extra money. Nevertheless, it is very important to provide our hospitals with normal equipment and latest medicines. If we do not do it, we will have to pay a heavy price. People should get adequate treatment,” the head of state said.

There are certain issues in the cultural industry. For example, it is necessary to renovate the concert venue of the International Festival of Arts Slavianski Bazaar in Vitebsk. There are no big problems in education and social security, Vladimir Penin said.

“We always say that there is a problem with personnel, salaries. Do you have these problems?” Aleksandr Lukashenko wondered.

“All people want bigger salaries. Therefore, we have this issue. However, I cannot say that this is the biggest issue,” the deputy chairman of the Vitebsk Oblast Executive Committee said.

Mikhail Vishnevetsky, head of the Main Healthcare Department of the Vitebsk Oblast Executive Committee, informed the head of state about the outpatient treatment of people from COVID-19 and about the state of affairs at regional medical centers. He also spoke about the current level of coronavirus infections and the timely rehabilitation of COVID-19 patients.

According to the head of state, a system of COVID-19 treatment was built in Belarus in a way not to keep people in hospitals for a very long time. They are sent for rehabilitation as soon as their health improves. This system helped prevent the overloading of hospitals, the President said.

The staffing issue in healthcare, especially the support of young specialists, was also discussed at the meeting. According to Mikhail Vishnevetsky, young people’s goal is to go to Minsk and big cities, and the personnel deficit in small populated areas emerges as a result. “Igor Petrovich, this is an issue. We need to think about it,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said addressing Head of the Belarus President Administration Igor Sergeyenko.

The head of state said that the staffing issue and the support of young specialists is an important issue for the agricultural industry. Therefore, a comprehensive approach, including with the use of the administrative resource, is needed. “Personnel training is an expensive process, but they just want to leave. Mandatory job assignments are necessary. Nowadays it is difficult to make people stay where they are. If the state paid for your training, and you want to go to another place, you should either work where you are for a certain period of time or cover the training expenses. They will think a thousand times before going anywhere,” the President stressed.

The provision of housing is a possible solution. Therefore, the topic of housing construction was also discussed at the meeting. “Of course, teachers and doctors need housing. And it does not matter how hard it is to solve this issue,” the head of state said.

“I am convinced that sometimes we artificially create a problem in housing construction, especially in Minsk and oblast capitals,” the President said. Citing Minsk as an example, he recalled how they managed to decrease the cost of 1 square meter of housing for people on waiting lists in Minsk. State-run companies instead of private builders were involved in the process. “The price made up $500 without interior decorations instead of $1,500 per one square meter in Minsk.”