Russia Faces Doctor Shortage as War Drains Resources

Written by Camilla Jessen

Apr.08 - 2024 12:38 PM CET

A recent report from the British Ministry of Defense sheds light on the escalating shortage of medical professionals in Russia.

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The medical sector in Russia is experiencing a marked shortage of doctors, a situation exacerbated by the country's ongoing military actions against Ukraine, according to a recent analysis by British intelligence. The intelligence review, released by the British Ministry of Defense on April 8, points to the considerable resource and financial allocations to the war effort as a primary cause of strain on various civilian sectors, including healthcare.

A Deepening Crisis in Healthcare

According to the findings, the healthcare sector in Russia is facing severe challenges, with a deficit of 30,000 doctors reported. This shortage is particularly acute in district hospitals, which are now lacking around 50% of the required medical specialists—a figure that has increased by 3,500 since November 2023.

The British Ministry of Defense attributes this shortage to several factors, including the diversion of significant resources and financial support towards the war effort, driving some medical professionals into the private sector or out of the country altogether to avoid conscription.

The review further mentions the exacerbating effects of increased demand on the remaining medical staff. An estimate from January 2024 indicated a reduction of 7,500 doctors over the preceding 15 months, driven by unsustainable working hours and low wages.

Recruitment Challenges and Quality of Care

In a bid to address this critical shortage, Russia has reportedly begun recruiting doctors from African countries, despite concerns over the verification of their qualifications.

This recruitment strategy, coupled with the ongoing decline in medical personnel, raises concerns about the potential deterioration in the quality of healthcare services in Russia. British intelligence predicts that the shortage of medical workers is likely to persist into 2024, with the recruitment of inadequately vetted foreign medical personnel posing risks to patient care standards.

The Broader Impact of War

This analysis comes amid reports from British intelligence about a decrease in the average daily losses of Russian troops in Ukraine during March, suggesting a reduction in combat activities.

Previous reports speculated on internal challenges within Russia, including a possible incident where Russian forces may have downed their own SU-27 fighter jet in late March.

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