The Highly Sensitive Topic of Health Economics in Russia Discussed at HSE St. Petersburg
The workshop on 'Health Economics in Russia: past, present and future?' was hosted by the International Centre for Health Economics, Management and Policy (CHEMP) of HSE Saint Petersburg on March 21, 2016 within the International Spatial Development Forum.
The workshop brought together leading researchers and practitioners in the field of health economics from both Russia and abroad. They joined forces in a series of presentations and open discussions to evaluate the state of health economics in Russia and to set out the key milestones for its future development. Priority areas for education and research were identified, along with opportunities for collaboration and ways to generate a constructive dialogue between stakeholders.
The most pressing issues influencing the development of health policy were discussed. It is no secret that resources for maintaining the population’s health and quality of life are limited; consequently, a careful and even-handed approach is needed when determining their allocation. Acting General Director of the Centre for Medical Production Expertise and Quality Control (under the Russian Ministry of Health) Vitaly Omelianovsky noted that no country in the world is able to ensure that each of its citizens has access to all of the latest medical advances, given the speed with which new technologies are developed. As a result, we are faced with the difficult task of balancing effectiveness with equity.
'Such decisions should result from a dialogue between the society and the state. The presence of such a dialogue is indicative of a civilized social state, which is what we are building right now in the Russian Federation. Nowadays there are many public organizations in St. Petersburg, Moscow and throughout the country as a whole, and so it is just a case of needing to create the necessary conditions to maximize the taking of those decisions,' explained Vitaly Omelianovsky.
According to the Director of CHEMP HSE, Professor Christopher J Gerry, there is a strong link between healthcare policy and the well-being of a state. If healthcare resources are allocated effectively and fairly, then a country will have a healthy population, a larger and more productive work force and a healthy economy. In turn, a healthier economy allows for a more effective healthcare system and a healthier population. It is a virtuous circle.
The timeliness and necessity of establishing a dialogue between healthcare professionals and ordinary citizens was noted by CHEMP Academic Supervisor, Professor Paul Kind.
'We need to try to involve people in the discussion about healthcare priorities at the domestic level. We need to have open debates about important issues such as smoking and alcohol consumption. These are not private matters; they concern society and the state as a whole. It is a difficult and very sensitive topic, but we need to discuss these issues, because the personal preferences and values that people have should influence the choices that society makes,' commented Paul Kind.
The workshop gave participants and experts the opportunity to discuss and gain a deeper understanding of the opportunities for health economics in Russia.
The workshop concluded with a decision to launch a Russian Association of Health Economics which will provide a nationwide forum for those interested in health and offer links to the International Health Economics community. The Association will be coordinated through HSE CHEMP.
In recent years in Russia, female smoking has increased, while the opposite holds true for men; in addition to this, smoking has increased at higher rates among those with lower levels of education compared to more educated Russians.