President Vladimir Putin:
[First Deputy Prime Minister] Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev has just given me updated data on the demographic situation, on births and deaths. All of the indicators continue to reflect a positive trend. The birth rate has risen by 8.5 percent and the death rate is down 9.5 percent. Infant mortality has decreased considerably. In a number of regions, the infant mortality rate has dropped to the European average, and in some regions, in St Petersburg, for example, it is even lower than the European average.
I stress that this is still just a trend at present, and we must continue to make every effort to ensure that this modest but positive change continues in all these areas. By the way, Russia’s natural population decline has dropped by 33 percent. As I said, these are just the first steps, the first results, and if we want to consolidate these results and have a real impact on the country’s demographic development in the future, we must do everything necessary to implement the plans that we have already drawn up, and we must also take additional measures.
The priority measures in this area, in my view, should include the following steps.
We need to carry out a thorough stocktaking of maternity clinics and women’s health centres at the earliest date, analyse the results of their work and draw up a comprehensive programme for the reconstruction of existing centres and the construction of new ones over the period 2008–2010.
We also need to continue measures to bring down the number of deaths from what we could call, in quote marks, manageable causes. To achieve this goal, we must draft comprehensive programmes for reducing the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease in the Russian regions and begin their implementation this year. We have already outlined such programmes in the past, and now we must draw them up and begin carrying them out.
This year we are implementing programmes to bring down the road toll, together with the Interior, Transport, and Social Development and Healthcare Ministries, in a number of regions, and we must take all the necessary steps in this area.
We have already discussed this a lot, and it is clear that we must take action. I want this to be set out as concrete programmes with concrete objectives. We also need to begin work on selecting promising healthcare development programmes to be carried out at the main federal healthcare institutions over the period 2008–2010.
As we know, some federal healthcare institutions are already carrying out these kinds of programmes and they need our support. I have discussed this matter with the Minister for Social Development and Healthcare. This will not require any special increase in spending (I see the Finance Minister looking tense). This is all part of the objectives that we set earlier, but we will probably need to make a few adjustments.