In the list of issues “Our House” solves, medicine is far from the last place. We want the state to take care of the life and health of every Belarusian, and any person, regardless of status and income, could be sure that they get help. That is why we have so often touched on the topic of medicine, dealt with imperfections and crimes in the healthcare system. Today we will tell you about how it was.
In 2014, the material about illegal organ transplantation appeared on our website. In 2011, a young entrepreneur had an accident and had a high chance of recovery, but his liver was suitable for a Ukrainian citizen awaiting surgery. As soon as the patient’s mother, who was on duty at her son’s bedside, was escorted out, the doctors took the young man to the operating room, and in conclusion, they wrote that he died from a fracture of the base of the head. Although, according to the X-ray examination, all the bones of the skull were intact. And the cessation of brain activity has not even been established. It allows us to conclude that the entrepreneur did not die – doctors killed him. In December 2012, the chief transplant surgeon of Belarus Oleg Rummo wrote to the mother of the deceased that electroencephalography “is not the determining criterion for the diagnosis of brain death.” It is also noteworthy that the injured woman, the entrepreneur’s mother, repeatedly appealed to law enforcement agencies with a request to start paperwork against doctors, and each time she was refused to initiate criminal proceedings.
In 2017, a tragedy happened with a Homel woman Natalia Yakimova – her son died in the Gomel Regional Clinical Hospital. The inconsolable mother considered that the cause of the tragedy could be the unwillingness of doctors to fight for the life of a young man. Probably, the story was the same as we described above – Yevgeny Yakimov was “chosen” as an organ donor for another person. Natalia sent a request to the hospital to provide a report on the funds spent on her son. However, she got refuse to receive this information. She failed to break through the main Department of Health of the region and the Ministry of Health. “Our House” voiced this problem and devoted several materials to it. “The tragedy of the Yakimov family has revealed serious problems that have existed for a long time in “free” medicine. In particular, this system is closed and operates according to some laws and rules of its own. When a person successfully recovers, he is usually not interested in expenses for his treatment. But the death is a reason for a serious investigation,” it was noted in one of our publications.
The state does not pay attention not only to medical equipment and doctors but also to the territories of healthcare institutions. The road near the children’s polyclinic No. 2 in Bobruisk condition left much to be desired: holes, a broken ramp, cracks on the asphalt, lack of handrails. In August 2017, representatives of the ICCI “Our House” in Bobruisk sent an appeal to the head of the city Alexander Studnev and the deputy of the City Council for Volodarsky district No. 2 Teymuraz Bochorishvili. In it, they drew attention to the unsatisfactory condition of the territory adjacent to the children’s polyclinic No. 2. They also wrote to the housing and communal services of the city, but they said that the road was in perfect order. The housing and communal services covered the pits on the asphalt with cement and tactfully ignored everything else.
In 2018, the ICCI “Our House” activist, Irina Kravets, received a domestic injury and turned to doctors. However, the diagnosis was incorrect. She found it out only after consulting with doctors from Vilnius. Belarusian doctors could not distinguish a complete separation of a muscle group from a partial one. They didn’t note the difference between a normal fracture from a fracture with displacement. Returning to Belarus, Irina Kravets appealed to the Ministry of Health with a complaint about the lack of proper treatment and demanded to collect a medical consultation. However, it refused to explain to Irina how to treat her problem – instead, the council members left the office. Irina called the Ministry of Health hotline, and one of the council members happened to be on the call. The employee who answered the hotline asked to calm Irina down and tell her something. Irina received documents about her health status only two months later.
In 2018, a resident of Slavgorod, Angelika Kalatozishvili, who stopped walking due to a medical error, applied to the ICСI “Our House”. Her story appeared on our website. In 2012, Angelika went to the doctors with complaints of weakness, fatigue and tachycardia. As a result of numerous examinations, doctors suspected she had cancer and removed her healthy organs. However, she did not have cancer, but because of improper treatment, her legs failed. She was suspected of other diseases: bone tuberculosis, metastases. Doctors did not send Angelika to Minsk for examination. Her health only worsened, and she did not receive treatment. Only two years later, she was diagnosed with a thyroid tumour. Angelika turned out to be a disabled person of the 1st group and then of the 2nd group. In 2016, she went to court over the illegal removal of the group. Due to improper treatment, Angelika’s bones collapsed, and she moved to a wheelchair. Neither the Investigative Committee nor the Ministry of Health did anything about the doctors who made a mistake. When the woman made her story public, she began to be persecuted. Medical workers filed a statement against her for disclosing medical secrets. Angelika Kalatozishvili is regularly subjected to searches and repressions. For example, in 2020, she was tried for publishing materials from the NEXTA Telegram channel.
Angelika’s story revealed several problems in medicine. For example, officials cannot find the money for a separate transport that will carry seriously ill people for treatment to Mogilev and back. Nominally, there is an ambulance for these purposes, but when transporting patients, it performs some other tasks – boxes with medical equipment, tests, corpses are loaded into it. The car, which is supposed to take patients for hemodialysis to Mogilev, gets to the regional centre from Slavgorod in an hour and a half and goes back even longer. Getting there by public transport will be much faster – only 40 minutes. But it is difficult for sick people to take a regular bus after a procedure. Old and uncomfortable cars produced in the USSR are used for transportation. Together with the patient, boxes of medicines and documents can go there. A year before that, the first deputy head of the Ministry of Health, Dmitry Pinevich, said that healthcare institutions needed to abandon old cars and switch to cars of European manufacturers.
In 2019, we drew attention to the fact that the doctors of the metropolitan polyclinic No. 10 were directly involved in the child removal from the family. We are talking about Elvira Mironova, a girl whose parents took up the problems of her school, and then the guardianship authorities became interested in them. Doctors from polyclinic got to the Commission on Juvenile Affairs a piece of false information about the threat to the girl’s life and health. And at the courts on the child return home, medical workers testified against Elvira’s parents. Let’s clarify that earlier, Elvira’s parents paid for the “Personal Pediatrician” service for their daughter, but the girl could not use it because she ended up in a shelter. The polyclinic did not return the money for this, explaining that the right to get medical help is guaranteed to Elvira by the Constitution. And soon, the service was removed from the list on the polyclinic’s website.
When the coronavirus came to Belarus, “Our House” wrote about the illegitimate government irresponsibility. In March 2020, we called on Belarusians not to let children into schools. In April 2020, we launched the “Corona 2020” campaign – at its beginning, our activists in Bobruisk distributed free masks with the logo of our organization. Also, as part of the campaign, we tried to cancel the Victory Day parade in Belarus. We noted that the parade crew is a hotbed of coronavirus infection because the distance between the military in the ranks is minimal. And we proposed spending the financial resources spent on demonstrating the strength and power of the state on the needs of the younger generation or means of protection for Belarusians.
We also talked about how the second wave of the new virus is taking place in Belarus, based on anonymous stories of Belarusian teachers. We learned that there are cases of infection among students and teachers in schools, that many school staff and children do not observe the mask regime. Schoolchildren also do not have any measures on how to protect themselves during a pandemic. But teachers spend ideologically correct information hours. Teachers told the pupils not to wear masks and even promoted bullying of those children who wore them. Distance learning was not established, and at that moment, the widespread transition to it looked like something out of the realm of fiction.
After the 2020 elections, we continued to study the problems of Belarusian medicine. In March 2021, we devoted material to corruption in the Ministry of Health and how our country became a testing ground for children’s vaccines. In May 2021, we talked about how an illegitimate dictator gets rid of disabled people. We have tried to explain in as much detail as possible the problems of people with disabilities: lack of access to treatment, inconvenient roads and transport, repression for politics. Also, in May, we published material about psychiatric hospitals in Belarus and punitive psychiatry in our country. In this text, we talked about activists who get there for their civic position. In July 2021, we released an article about how the Lukashenka regime kills patients with spinal muscular atrophy and spends millions of dollars to turn off the Internet, ignoring the requests of children and their parents for help.
In addition, we covered the repression against doctors and helped them. A paediatrician from Kobrin, Yulia Rafalovich, who worked as a doctor for more than 20 years and became unnecessary to the city after she decorated the city park with white-red-white ribbons before Freedom Day, received help from us. Yulia was put in jail for seven days, and after leaving, she was fired from her job. And in February 2021, a list of repressed oncologists appeared on our website.
We want our Belarusian medicine to reach the level of European countries so that people are not afraid to go to doctors and do not suffer pain to the last. We want our hospitals to be comfortable to enter, and the friendly attitude of the medical staff at least slightly alleviated the suffering of patients. After Belarus returns to democracy, we will do everything possible to make our dreams come true.