21 december 2010

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs a government meeting

Vladimir Putin

At a government meeting

“Our goal now is to actually reduce or completely eliminate, whenever possible, the remaining barriers to people with disabilities, and put an end to anything that impedes their access to public transport, education, healthcare, state and municipal services and, most importantly, employment. This is a top priority.”

Vladimir Putin's introductory remarks:

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to begin with the issues that were actively discussed during my Q&A session: providing support and creating a comfortable environment for people with disabilities. This is an urgent and acute problem that affects millions of Russians. At present, there are 13 million people with disabilities in Russia, which is over 9% of the population.

The problems of the disabled were disregarded for many years. The state turned a blind eye to them, paying pensions and benefits but no more than that. Many disabled persons were confined to their homes, becoming totally isolated from society. They had to overcome tremendous obstacles to get an education and have a professional career. As a result, few succeeded.

It is the state's goal to drastically improve the current situation and provide for people with disabilities every condition to lead an active, full and dignified life, as is the case in the majority of countries with developed economies.

I would like to remind you that we have made major amendments to laws guaranteeing the rights of people with disabilities. We have introduced special monthly payments for them, as well as a number of social benefits, including free medication and treatment at specialised establishments, as well as free suburban rail transport. More than 60,000 people with disabilities found jobs during the economic downturn through regional employment programmes, which were almost entirely funded out of the federal budget.

Starting in 2010, employers will be reimbursed to the cost of special equipment they purchase for employees with disabilities. These compensations currently amount to 30,000 roubles per employee, and will increase to 50,000 roubles next year.

Russia has signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and ratified the European Social Charter, thus accepting the highest world standards.

Our goal now is to actually reduce or completely eliminate, whenever possible, the remaining barriers to people with disabilities, and put an end to anything that impedes their access to public transport, education, healthcare, state and municipal services and, most importantly, employment. This is a top priority.

In addition, we must develop the system for the rehabilitation of people with disabilities and enhance significantly the principles of medical and social assessment, which still arouses numerous complaints.

The Accessible Environment targeted national programme for 2011-2015 is meant to address all those issues. We will discuss this programme today.

I would like to note that it complies with standards set by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and takes into account demands made by disabled persons' organisations. The programme's objective is to ensure unimpeded access of people with disabilities to principal facilities and services of social infrastructure, transport, communications, information and education by 2015.

The first stage envisages the implementation of regional pilot projects to test and improve various means for creating an accessible environment. We expect to initiate full-scale nationwide efforts at the second stage.

Special attention will be paid to a barrier-free school environment, which allows students with disabilities to attend general schools. Roughly 47 billion roubles have been earmarked for the programme. In particular, the federal budget will allocate 7 billion roubles in the next three years. Programme expenditures are estimated at 46.9 billion roubles (26.9 billion from the federal budget, 19.7 billion from regional budgets, and 269 million roubles from off-budget sources).

By 2015, the share of general education schools open to children and teenagers with disabilities will increase from today's 2.5% to 20%. The share of municipal transport equipped for disabled passengers is to grow from today's 8% to 16.5%. More than 10% of people with disabilities will be able to take part in sports regularly, compared to only 2% today.

We will increase by 800% the number of television programmes on nationwide TV channels that have subtitles for viewers with impaired hearing. We must also dramatically improve the equipment of institutions for medical rehabilitation of persons with disabilities and their medical and social assessment. For example, the share of central assessment offices with modern diagnostic equipment is to grow from 10% to 86%.

Naturally, this programme marks only the beginning of a huge job, in which we count on the closest possible partnership of public authorities of all levels, businesses and civil society institutions.

There is another critical item on our agenda. As you know, regional healthcare modernisation programmes will be launched in 2011. We have talked about them many times.

It is perhaps the most important and most ambitious of our projects for the years to come. We intend to allocate 460 billion roubles for it within two years. The funds will come from an increase in mandatory health insurance fees from 3.5% to 5.1%. This was a difficult decision and we discussed the issue many times, but we made it because we realise that public health is an indisputable priority. Now, we have the opportunity to solve the many problems that have accumulated in the health sector.

Regional programmes should logically continue federal efforts to improve public health. They are designed to improve the quality and accessibility of healthcare. The regions will purchase modern equipment, and renovate and otherwise update their key medical facilities.

Healthcare facilities must comply with the latest medical standards, employ highly qualified specialists, and certainly raise staff salaries, including those of doctors in outpatient clinics. I would like to note that the previous national project only entitled general practitioners and ambulance teams to additional payments.

Every region has discussed healthcare issues this year, with the participation of public organisations and medical professionals' associations. Regional authorities reviewed all healthcare institutions to reveal problems affecting the quality of patient care. The Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development analysed all draft regional programmes in the most demanding way possible.

Although regional programmes are still under consideration, we will decide on the allocation of funds for these programmes now to speed up local efforts. I will not enumerate the regions concerned – there are too many.

Here we take into account such factors as population, the cost of providing medical care, and the efficiency of a given healthcare organisation in a particular region.

Please note that the decision will be made on the distribution of 385 billion roubles out of total 460 billion among the regions. The rest of the sum will be reserved for the following goals: first, funding the federal healthcare institutions that are included in regional modernisation programmes. Second, we will establish a targeted reserve for the regions that are implementing their programmes in full and achieving the best results.

I ask the Ministry of Healthcare to submit to the government by the end of the week a draft resolution on the spending for the regional healthcare modernisation programmes. I would like to add that some regions have a very strange view of modernisation – they are reducing the number of rural first-aid stations, local hospitals and beds in central district hospitals. In fact, they are doing the opposite of what the programme is about.

What have we agreed on? All planned regional expenditures will stay unchanged while federal allocations on healthcare modernisation will come as additional funds.

Please focus on healthcare services in rural areas and small towns. They need special attention. I call on governors to monitor the situation and new initiatives.


Today we will also decide on the allocation of subsidies to regions. Twenty-nine regions are entitled to additional subsidies totalling 10.7 billion roubles. Particularly, the Omsk Region will receive one billion roubles from the federal budget to build the metro in Omsk. The Moscow Region is entitled to 700 million roubles for the social and economic development of Star City and free travel in Moscow for pensioners resident in the region. The Amur Region will receive half a billion to relocate people from dilapidated houses along the Baikal-Amur Railway. The final construction stages of the Ryazan and Chita perinatal centres will also be funded.

Let us move on to our agenda.