Russia: A strange state for state-of-the-art laboratory diagnostics

NHS suffers from lawyers' indefensible greed

The last time medical science enriched clinical practice with new advanced technologies ideas about aetiology and the treatment principles of a great number of diseases changed. Now the dilemma of modification of diagnoses and treatments, including laboratory diagnostics, is a very hot issue in Russia.

Russian laboratory diagnostics began in Saint-Petersburg in the 19th century: the first department was organised in Military Medical Academy 115 years ago. But it wasn’t until 1997 that the first scientific department of laboratory diagnostics was created within basic medical education, at the Academician I.P. Pavlov State Medical University in Saint-Petersburg. One can say that, in Russia, the development of laboratory diagnostics is at a rather low level, and this type of diagnosis does not play a significant part in the treatment process. On average, patients must wait 10 days for a laboratory check-up. The situation was sad.
‘Health’, the national project, has directed large sums of money to supply Russian laboratories by modern equipment. For the last two years, over 11,000 laboratories gained new facilities – such a number never seen in Russia! Every region sent requests to the Health Ministry stating their needs. Over 5,000 applications were received by the government and, to date, about 3,000 have been met. Every provider has to train two specialists to work with the new system and to supply with reagents for one year.
The results of this process will be verified in two years. The Ministry leaders hope to see a great change in the quality of laboratory diagnostics in medical centres throughout the country. But some specialists have some doubts about successful results. Why?
‘The new equipment is a great deal! But we have tremendous organisational problems,’ explained Professor Vladimir Amanuel, vice-president of Russian Association of Laboratory Medicine. ‘Our laboratory assistants cannot use the up-to-date system; they could study, but our physicians don’t understand why they need laboratory diagnostics! They became used to their own “feelings”! The contemporary analysis average is only 35%. To change this idea in the doctors’ heads will take a long time, I believe.
‘It’s not right that laboratories in out-patient centres are the only ones with new systems,’ he continued. ‘The university clinics, big hospitals and diagnostic centres do not receive the modern laboratory equipment. It means the main specialists in Russia will not have the opportunity to use present-day systems and universities can’t teach their students about the modern ones. That’s why I doubt a quick success.’
Report: Olga Ostrovskaya

01.05.2009

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