The Coordinating Council was created in September 2012 to facilitate interaction between various bodies of authority as well as public associations in implementing the National Children’s Strategy. The Council also drafts proposals for the President regarding priority areas of the national policy on children.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
The agenda of this Coordinating Council meeting contains issues dealing with improving the health of our children and young people. It is no secret that the successful resolution of these issues is to a large extent the key to the future of this country, of Russia, to its economic, social and demographic prosperity, its defence capability and national security, and most importantly, to the physical and moral health of our citizens, our entire society.
Teenagers’ health has a direct impact on their future, their ability to acquire a profession, create a family and raise children. It is the age when the body changes, prepares for adulthood, a period of rapid growth when the individual’s personality and outlook take shape.
At this age, teenagers reach the toughest stage in their development. They are especially vulnerable, often even helpless in the face of the difficulties, temptations and risks they encounter in today’s world. We all know that nowadays young people face far more risks that we, their parents or grandparents, did. Therefore, it is very important to help the teenagers, and primarily to pay the most careful attention to their health.
Colleagues, the issues we will consider today are multifaceted. Many factors have an impact on young people’s health: this can be the atmosphere at home and at school, the family’s standard of living, the accessibility of healthcare, the quality of food and the availability of sports.
We have quite a few problems in all of these areas. We are well aware of this, and this is supported by alarming statistics. Thus, medical check-ups of 14-year olds conducted in 2011 found only slightly more than 16 percent of them to be in perfect health, 54.3 percent had various functional disorders, and over 5 percent had disabilities. These figures clearly indicate that the state of young people’s health leaves much to be desired.
A number of measures were taken recently to remedy the situation: for example, we increased the scope of high-tech medical assistance 1.3 times in 2012, and 1.5 times last year, compared to 2011.
To prevent problems with young people’s reproductive and psychological health we have reinforced corresponding branches of medicine. Thus, we have almost doubled the number of medical and social aid centres, which has led to a reduction in the share of children with psychological and emotional disorders. The number of suicides among young people has almost halved in the past five years.
However, I would like to stress that this horrible problem still exists. We have to make sure parents and teachers pay greater attention to the emotional state of children and teenagers, while expert assistance should be accessible, efficient and timely. I do not think I need to promote here in this group the idea that the state is right in limiting the propaganda of suicides on the Internet, among other things.
The results of medical check-ups of adolescents aged 15–17 last year showed a 6 percent increase in the number of absolutely healthy young people, while the number of those with chronic ailments went down by 5 percent.
We undoubtedly see a positive tendency here, but there has been no cardinal change yet, as over 70 percent of young people still suffer from various ailments, some of them chronic. In other words, the majority of young Russians on the threshold of adulthood have health problems.
This means a lot still needs to be done in the sphere of regular medical check-ups, rehabilitation, resort therapy, summer vacationing and disease prevention. As you may know, the network of corresponding health improvement facilities develops in summer. Apart from such major children’s recreation centres as Orlyonok, and Okean in the Far East, I hope we will soon manage to bring the once famous Artek back to its proper condition.
Currently it is in a deplorable state, all they have there are event venues now, while proper accommodation for children remains a problem. Nevertheless, we will deal with it. The Prime Minister was there yesterday to inspect the site. We will continue our work. It is important to maintain not only these major facilities – we need to develop across the nation a broad network of centres that will focus on restoring young people’s health in summer.
I would like to stress here that protecting and promoting children’s health is not the job of healthcare authorities alone. These areas require a complex approach by a number of agencies at all levels: federal, regional and municipal, and, of course, with the participation of public associations and civic society institutions focussed on social issues.
I believe that all regions of the Russian Federation should run their own programmes to develop young people’s health that would take into account the existing experience, prioritise goals and attract investment. The main thing here is to approach this with an understanding of the enormous significance of the matter that we all need to address, rather than show an indifferent formalistic approach.
Local government bodies have special responsibility here, as they have good knowledge of the situation on their territories and can arrange assistance to families with disabled children or families where young people have found themselves in critical life situations, in risk groups. In some cases, as we all know, the parents of these young people also need support and advice.
A great deal can be achieved locally in terms of creating sports and recreation facilities, places where people can take the revived Ready For Labour and Defence physical training test. I would like to stress that the revival of this tradition will undoubtedly prove to be beneficial for our young people.
According to experts, over 50 percent of all diseases are a result of people’s lifestyle and behaviour. We have to stop treating young people as people who only need the help and support of adults. We must teach them independence and responsibility for their health from a young age.
We need to get children involved in sports, hold all sorts of competitions, Spartakiada Games, and form groups of high-school students who will promote healthy living. The example of successful and active peers often has a better effect than the mentoring of adults.
Colleagues and friends, this is exactly what we have in mind when we bring major competitions, such as University Games, the Olympics and world championships to this country. We are doing this primarily to promote sports and a healthy lifestyle. I hope the latest success of our ice hockey team will work for the same goal. I am sure young people will make healthy living fashionable very quickly. We only need to direct and support them.
Friends, I have singled out only a few issues that I believe to be of priority interest. Undoubtedly many of you have your own ideas on what needs to be done and how. I would like to thank you for your attention. Let us begin our work.