A lot of our fellow-countrymen are now concerned with the problem of medicine in our region. The thing is that the number of complex medical services that hospitals on the liberated Donbas territory provide is limited. Thus, a lot of people have to go to other regional centres of our country to get treatment. It used to be possible to obtain medical help of high quality in oncology, operations on blood vessels and other spheres in Donetsk, however now, due to the conflict, not everyone will get a permit to enter the occupied territory and go to unrecognized “republics” to get treatment. Besides, lack of information which accompanies this war often distorts and hides the real picture from us and we see the events through the propaganda of occupational authorities.
So, we will try to outline the situation in medical sector of the occupied territories of the Donetsk region in general. We are going to describe the situation during the last months, analyze the facts and evidence provided by independent Ukrainian and Russian journalists and witnesses who live in Donetsk.
In general, the medical situation in “DPR” can be described by a phrase “everything is free but you have to pay for it”. As we have already said, before the war, Donetsk used to be a developed medical centre in practically all spheres, take, for example, a famous diagnostic centre in Kalynin Hospital. In 2015, the populist leaders of the “republic” proclaimed “free medicine” which, however, does not exist. There is no free medical treatment or supply of medicines for those who need them. In many cases, doctors who work in hospitals which are situated on the territory controlled by Ukraine, have to recommend their patients to continue treatment on the occupied territory as modern medical centres with sophisticated equipment and experienced specialists remained in Donetsk. Founders of the “republic” seized medical centres which were developed by Ukraine and had up-to-date equipment. After Donetsk had been occupied, Kalynin Hospital turned into a hospital for “DPR” militants and it is practically impossible to make an appointment with a doctor there if you do not know him or her personally or do not pay a lot of money for a consultation.
It has become a usual situation when a doctor who works in localities which are controlled by Ukraine calls his or her colleague who works “on the other side” and arranges an appointment to continue the treatment. Doctors from Donetsk inform about the price in advance. For example, a patient of one of Volnovakha hospitals was charged 7500 hryvnyas as he needed an urgent surgery in Kalynin Hospital due to cholesystitis. A number of the best city clinics now provide treatment and healthcare for civil servants who were sent to Donetsk from Russia and for commanders of the Russian Army.
Still, it would be unfair to say that ordinary residents of Donetsk are totally deprived of medical help. You can always address a hospital which is situated on the outskirts of Donetsk or in some small neighbouring town. However, according to the information provided by witnesses there are not enough specialists there and conditions for patients leave much to be desired. Such clinics provide treatment for ordinary residents of the “people’s republic”. The locals often complain that militants even in these hospitals have the priority and they are always treated first without queuing for hours. They are called “camouflage men” in those queues. Militants, especially Russians, are extremely happy to be treated like very important persons and they are happy to use this right. There are not enough ambulances for ordinary people on occupied territories as they were sent either to help “The front” or to serve more important and richer “citizens of young republic”.
Medical workers who would agree to work in “provincial” clinics are in great demand at “DPR job fairs”. If to look at the data of “republican employment centre”, it becomes clear that the demand for medics is really high (about 24% of vacancies are connected with medical sphere). It should be noted, however, that doctors and nurses are not in a hurry to agree to these positions as an average salary in the flourishing “republic” is 1250 hryvnyas for a nurse, 1487 for a paramedic, 1232 hryvnyas for a midwife. Compare this to an average salary of a janitor (1216 hryvnyas) or a street cleaner (1657 hryvnyas) and think about the prospects of working in “L/DPR” medical sphere if you have education and if you are a qualified specialist. A doctor who does not work in a “prestigious DPR clinic” does not get more money, their salary is about 1580 hryvnyas.
The majority of good specialists who used to work in big hospitals and did not leave the seized city were also sent to work at military hospitals or at clinics for “civil servants” who represent the new “authorities”, “field commanders” or just people who have necessary connections. Their salary ranges from 4500 to 5700 hryvnyas and more, plus they get “donations” from their patients and they can also help some other people for money. The medical system, of course, is largely supported by the Russian Federation as it provides money for salaries of state workers. This information was presented by “The Bild” journalists’ investigation. According to it, the Cremlin spends about two million Euros on medicine of occupied territories of Ukraine monthly. This is done in order to provide occupational army and “authorities” with necessary medical treatment and also to avoid destructive social processes in the society which can rebel if the level of medical service which three million residents of the occupied territories get deteriorates completely.
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