UMC providing workshops for Russian doctors

By Gene Bukhman

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Dmitry Voronkov looked frustrated as he walked past the in-patient pharmacy at UMC, glancing absently at the medicine shelves.

"At my hospital in Ryazan, we have 120 kinds of aspirin, but there are times we don't have enough antibiotics," Voronkov said.

Joined by eight other Russian physicians, Voronkov visited the University of Arizona in mid-October, attending workshops on pharmaceutical management and touring Tucson hospitals. Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the group will learn from UMC as they build a model hospital in Ryazan, a city southeast of Moscow.

The physician said he is working to set priorities to make essential medicines available to Russians whose health status has gone from bad to atrocious since 1990.

In February, the New York Times reported that death rates in Russia have risen 20 percent since 1992, while average life expectancy for men has fallen to 59 and continues to drop.

Bacterial dysentery and typhoid fever, rare diseases in industrialized countries, have risen to epidemic levels, said the Times. Half of the country's hospitals have no hot water and a quarter have no sewage systems.

"We are spending too much on salaries and not enough on drugs and other essentials," said Dr. Valiri, a public health administrator from Novgorod. "We import thousands of different drug preparations, but the little money we have available for pharmaceuticals is squandered on obscure products of questionable efficacy."

The University of Arizona, in cooperation with Russian physicians and Management Sciences for Health, a private contractor from Boston, has targeted Ryazan hospital for a program in pharmaceutical management.

Gary Smith, pharmacy professor, helped organize the Russian visit.

"These are all smart doctors, and even they will admit some of their practices don't make sense," Smith said.

"We would like to help this group decide which drugs work, and which drugs they need to have," said Edward Armstrong, pharmacy professor.

The UA program, which will also involve follow-up training, may expand to other hospitals in Russia as the Ryazan project produces results.

"The reports we have are encouraging," said Smith, "Staff at Ryazan has begun to apply the ideas, not just talk about them."

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