Russia is a nation of huge economic contrasts.  The country has generated a great deal of mineral wealth, yet it still spends a comparatively small amount of GDP on health at 5.6% in 2010 – compare that to, for example, the 8.8% in Brazil.  The Russian health system, in the main, remains outmoded and undercapitalized and is need of significant investment, particularly in rural areas.

Chichester, UK, July 4  2012 – According to a new Espicom market research report, Understanding Russia’s Regional Health Markets (, the progress in improvement in Russia’s health system is slow.  Urban areas, particularly Moscow are of a high quality, but provision in rural areas remains poor.

Russia is the largest country in the world, with a land area of over 17 million square kilometres, encompassing eleven time zones.  It has an estimated population of 142.9 million.  Delivering universal high quality health services is a challenge.

Funding is at the heart of Russia’s health improvement plans, and at the beginning of 2011 obligatory medical insurance contributions increased from 3.1% to 5.1%, deductable from salaries.  This will raise an additional R460 billion (US$15.1 billion) over two years and will help cover the costs of overhauling, and equipping hospitals and polyclinics.  The extra funds will also help to provide a wider range of free-of-charge medical services.

With measures to increase income, however, has come the challenge of distribution and the recognition that, in common with countries such as India and China, there is a yawning gap between well provided for cities and the more remote regions.  Compare the situation in Moscow and Ivanovo, both located in the Central Federal District, where per capita health/social care spending in Moscow is US$665 and in Ivanovo it is US$193.  Not surprisingly, Ivanovo’s health indicators are worse than Moscow’s, for example death rate and doctors per 000 inhabitants.

In 2010, the government introduced the idea of a regional healthcare services modernisation scheme that aims to improve quality and availability of medical services and raise the profile of the medical profession.  The decision to implement the required changes was difficult, particularly during a period of economic pressure.  Healthcare modernisation is well overdue.  To put this into context, over 30% of hospitals lack a hot water supply, 8% do not have a drinking water pipeline and 9% lack drainage.

Andrew Crofts, senior health analyst at Espicom and the report’s author comments.

“Since 2005 it seems that the Russian authorities are taking health provision seriously and have ambitious plans to improve the lot of the Russian people.  But progress is slow and it remains to be seen if the political will to improve is actually realised on the ground”.

For further information on the report visit