More faith healers than physicians in Russia

A new Russian study has revealed that only around 44% of Russians visited the doctor last year. But oddly, when people from the former Soviet Union actually seek help, it is usually in the form of alternative medicine. Marina Belorysova, an English teacher working at a primary school in Moscow, says that her feelings about what doctors do are not what Americans might see as mainstream.

"They give advices, but most of them are about herbs," said Belorysova. "Most of them use these ladies who cast spells for different sicknesses. They know a lot of recipes of how to use herbs and so on. Those who grew up in the village it’s very popular there. My mom still uses this kind of medicine, like a healing cuff with herbs."

According to recent government statistics, about 300,000 Muscovites went to alternative healers in 2010. Russia has 800,000 of them – more than the number of official physicians. Daria Minerova, a clairvoyant healer, says “regular” doctors often call upon her to either cast or clear spells for patients.

Belorysova says that it is quite common among Russians to seek western medicine and then opt for the alternative.

“I have a friend she has a baby, a daughter of three,” she said. “When the baby was one, the baby she had some kind of disease. And of course they could treat it with medicine - with pills or something - but they said you have to go to a lady who can cast a spell on it and it will go away. And it did.”

She also says many people in Russia are afraid of western medicine.

“Medicine is very poor in Russia,” said Belorysova. “It is very bad. At least they know when they use alternative medicine nothing really bad will happen. When they go for a surgery, they don’t know whether they will live or not. If they do alternative medicine, that maybe it won’t help, but nothing bad will happen.”

One doctor, who identified herself as Dr Malkina, works at the European Medical Center, a private clinic in Moscow. She is a certified neurologist but has combined alternative medicine with her clinic’s treatment methods. Dr Malkina agrees with Belorysova that many Russians resort to alternative treatments because they are reluctant to take risks when it comes to their health. 

“Russian people like because it is very safe and very comfortable for people,” said Malkina. “The crystal is very clean and make very big and powerful energy. It heals people and gives people energy. Gives people a better feeling.”

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has admitted that the country’s healthcare system is a mess. He has pledged to fix outdated equipment and increase supplies. ~ Voice of America, Jun 22

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