President of Russia Vladimir Putin: You are here to present an annual report, right? Go ahead, please.
Commissioner for Children’s Rights Anna Kuznetsova: Yes, I am. Good afternoon, Mr President.
I am glad to have this opportunity to update you on our main achievements and, of course, our problems as an institution of commissioners for children’s rights.
But first I would like to offer our greetings on the recent International Children’s Day and to present you with these letters to soldiers. This is children’s art made for the current, past and even future soldiers. We send them to military units. This year the Defence Ministry helped us send them to Syria.
Vladimir Putin: Very good, thank you.
Anna Kuznetsova: Mr President, children’s rights commissioners have recently met for a regular conference, during which we implemented a project called Childhood Vector 2018. This project is aimed at choosing the best childhood practices.
It was the first time we held this contest to choose the 10 best projects for large families, adoptive families and children with special needs. We are working in many spheres, including mentorship. We received over 1,000 projects from many regions and selected the best ones. Victory went to Tyumen’s one-stop shop assistance project.
And lastly, I want to present our report on the performance of children’s rights commissioners last year. It covers the main problems and the main issues we deal with.
This is what I would like to say. Overall, the trend has not changed, meaning that the majority of requests we receive have to do with property issues, as well as family relations and parent-child relations. But the alarming part is that the number of requests that concern education has grown by 83 percent. A possible reason is increased attention to our education system.
I certainly agree that we must not only provide education to our children but also offer them an opportunity to develop and to grow up as individuals. We must do more than just provide them with a certain amount of knowledge. We must also bring them up as future parents. We are closely working with the Education Ministry in this respect.
Vladimir Putin: What exactly worries people in education?
Anna Kuznetsova: Several problems are of concern, including the quality of education, education for children with special needs, the accessibility and quality of education, and, of course, the issue of character building.
We discussed these problems with various agencies, and the Federal Service for Supervision in Education and Science (Rosobrnadzor) proposed at the commissioners’ conference that we create a special group that will assess the quality of character building at school. We have learned to gauge the amount and quality of education, and we are doing this accurately and in great detail. We now need to pay especially close attention to character building.
We have prepared a plan of events on security, which includes the issue of character building. I am referring to information and education security for children.
Vladimir Putin: Do you need my assistance, or have you coordinated all matters with the [Education] Ministry?
Anna Kuznetsova: We are coordinating it with them within the education system. Some questions have been settled, while others still need to be coordinated.
Vladimir Putin: Regarding the plan you have mentioned, is it a draft you need to approve yet?
Anna Kuznetsova: We have coordinated some of the questions with the concerned agencies, but there are also outstanding matters that still need to be coordinated.
Mr President, I would like to thank you for the executive orders you signed in May. We welcomed them wholeheartedly, because many of them concern the future and hence children. In this context, I would like to say that there are different criteria for assessing the performance of regional leaders. In the first year of the Decade of Childhood, which has begun under one of these executive orders, we would like to have more indicators for evaluating the quality of children’s policy.
Therefore, we have drafted proposals suggesting the possibility of adding the childhood component to the personal performance criteria of the regional leaders. This subject should be given prominence alongside the regions’ economic and investment appeal.
I believe that if our proposals are supported, the issue of childhood will be not only important to us as parents but will also play an increased role in regional politics.
Vladimir Putin: I will instruct the Presidential Executive Office and the Government to work on this issue so that it can be implemented.
Anna Kuznetsova: Thank you, Mr President.
I would like to focus on another important issue that is, in fact, very acute and known to everyone: housing for orphans to live. I must mention it, because recently the housing queue has been constantly increasing.
Vladimir Putin: Yes, it has.
(Ms Kuznetsova spoke in detail about housing for orphans; in particular, she proposed transferring this responsibility from the Education Ministry to a relevant agency such as the Construction Ministry.)
Anna Kuznetsova: Another issue I have to raise is about children with developmental delays and orphan diseases. There are over 8,000 such children in Russia. Unfortunately, the problem with providing the necessary medicines is very acute today. Only 30 Russian regions have completely met the demand for medicines for children with orphan or rare diseases. The deficit is over eight billion rubles today.
Mr President, we have carefully studied many issues related to this. We focused on them when we received such requests and studied the reasons for the lack of such important medicines, because a child’s life and health often depend on them; life, if we are talking about orphan diseases.
We have worked on the issue together with corresponding agencies and developed proposals on the need to centralise purchases, because the gap between the retail price the Russian regions now purchase at and the wholesale price is quite big. Here is a simple example from the latest requests. A first-line medicine cost over 30 million rubles, while the wholesale price was six million. This gap makes us want to pay closer attention to price formation, which would allow saving enough money, including with centralised purchases.
This is why we are introducing this proposal, Mr President. It would not only allow saving money but also purchasing medicines for a larger number of children.
Vladimir Putin: We have discussed this issue many times and do not have the necessary procedure yet. We will definitely discuss it again.
Anna Kuznetsova: Of course, it is very important and perhaps requires a group to work on the resources for producing many medicines in Russia.
For example, and I say this with joy, I have recently returned from the Vladimir Region where I was surprised to see that the large number of requests to the Commissioner helped to develop new Russian production of T-spot – an alternative means to diagnose TB that everyone can use: children with HIV or suppressed immune system function, or even pregnant women. This is why I see that this issue can also be resolved.
Vladimir Putin: Of course, that is one of the main trajectories to develop and resolve this issue. We only need for them to have the same and maybe better quality than their foreign analogues at an affordable cost. This is certainly the path we are trying to take.