Nobody calls them ‘heroes’ in Russia

Over the past few weeks TV news has often featured public appreciation of healthcare workers, whether it was Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanking nurses of the National Health Servicer for saving his life or locked-in Madrileños banging pots.

No displays of gratitude have come from Russia. There doctors are on the nose, regarded with suspicion as whining money-grubbers. According to a report from Associated Press:

Antipathy toward the medical profession is widespread in Russia, said social anthropologist Alexandra Arkhipova, who studies social media posts peddling virus conspiracy theories. More than 100 theories she studied say doctors diagnose COVID-19 cases so they can get more money; others say they help the government cover up the outbreak.

“It’s a crisis of trust that the epidemic underscored,” she said. “I haven’t seen this attitude anywhere else.”

About 70 health care workers have died in the past month, according to government statistics. Unofficial estimates are as high as 250. Doctors who complain about lack of protective equipment are censured or forced to apologize.

Last month, President Putin personally promised generous bonuses — about US$1,100 per month for doctors, $680 for nurses and paramedics, and $340 for orderlies. Little of the money has arrived.

Many health care workers have quit under the pressure, worsening the woes of Russia’s healthcare system. “We’re facing the threat of a complete destruction of the medical community,” Semyon Galperin, head of the Doctors Defense League rights group, told AP.

Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge

MORE ON THESE TOPICS | coronavirus, russia

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