Healthcare Reform, Demographic Trends, and COVID-19 In Russia: A Conversation With Professor Judyth Twigg

PONARS Eurasia
17 Jun 2020

(Reforum) Dr. Twigg is a professor of Political Science at Virginia Commonwealth University who specialized in public health reform in post-socialist states. Yana Gorokhovskaia talked to Prof. Twigg about the success of Russia’s healthcare reform, the reliability of Russia’s recorded COVID-19 deaths, and how political conservatism has impacted the health of vulnerable populations.

– Over the course of the last fifteen years, Russia has undertaken major reforms to overhaul the health care system it inherited from the Soviet Union. Life expectancy has improved and consumption of alcohol and tobacco has gone down. But problems with efficiency – Russia ranks last on the Bloomberg Health-Efficiency Index – and lack of care in rural communities remains. How successful have the reforms been overall?

– The answer depends on what you mean by health system reform and what your goals are. The increase in life expectancy and the decrease in consumption of alcohol and tobacco is the product of really smart public health policies: the restrictions that Russia put in place, starting about a decade ago, on the drinking age, the age at which you can buy tobacco, advertising of alcohol and tobacco, reducing the availability of alcohol and tobacco in retail settings and increases in taxes on these products. [...]

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