Hospice CEO talks to Putin about deficient palliative care
At a recent meeting with the Russian President, Nyuta Federmesser, founder of the hospice charity Vera (Faith) and CEO of the Palliative Care Centre, stressed the importance of legalising painkillers for children.
“Palliative care for children doesn’t really exist in Russia. There aren’t any painkillers for children no matter what the manufacturers and the Ministry of Health might say. Because at present pain relief can only be administered to babies from birth with an injection prick of morphine or promedol. From the age of 14, sticking plasters are used. We know how to reduce a child’s fever by using syrup or a rubber syringe (enema) and only use injections for anaesthesia”.
According to Federmesser, the main problem is that doctors are afraid of prescribing painkillers.
“For me it’s a shame that a great deal of money is being spent on strong painkilling drugs. Painkillers aren’t being prescribed not because they are unavailable in pharmacies but because doctors are unwilling to do so at all. It’s clear that, on the one hand, doctors don’t have enough experience in this area, allied to the fact that Article 228.2 of Russia’s Criminal Code makes any transgression of the rules for the prescription, registration, storage and theft of drugs a criminal offence. Those in our care don’t have a “tomorrow” or an “afterwards” so these prohibitions make no sense”, said the CEO of Vera.
“The main issue with palliative care is that it is currently defined as a branch of medicine under the law on Health Protection. But palliative care goes much wider than that. Of course, we can say that appropriate standards are being developed but in the meantime people are dying without getting any help”, said Federmesser. Nyuta also referred to infrastructure problems, the need to bring palliative care closer to people’s homes and the lack of trained professionals.
Vladimir Putin stressed that Government support for palliative care was increasing year on year. Less than 430 billion roubles were allocated in 2017 but the sum had been increased to between 518 and 520 billion this year. Nevertheless, the Russian President said that he would reflect on Federmesser’s concerns before taking appropriate action.