1 march 2011

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Ivan Dedov, President of the National Academy of Medical Sciences

The meeting focused on some of the academy’s top priorities and its potential contribution to the modernisation of Russia’s healthcare system.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Mr Dedov, congratulations on being elected president of the National Academy of Medical Sciences. I wish you the best of luck. What do you see as the Academy's top priorities for the near future?

I'm sure you know how much attention we've been paying to medicine in recent years and that you know about our healthcare modernisation programme. I'd like you to share your opinion on how the Academy of Medical Sciences can contribute to this programme and what we can do together to achieve the goals and objectives set.

Ivan Dedov: I appreciate your personal support, Mr Putin, and the support of the country's leadership in general. This is the first time the Russian National Academy of Medical Sciences has elected its president by vote and the nominee has had to be confirmed by the prime minister. The new head was chosen by a general assembly following deliberations on each of the candidates.

This sets a positive new tone, I think.

We should now try and bring together the institutions that operate under the wing of the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Health Ministry, and medical schools. There is great potential, both in terms of research, personnel and technical resources, which will enable us to implement innovative projects aimed at modernising the healthcare system.

Everyone (at the academy) is aware of this, and we've had a frank discussion of our weak points today, including in human resources.

We spoke about the need to improve personnel training. We should look out for fresh talent at medical schools and take care of the most promising students, providing them with moral and material support and helping them with their future career choices, notably with deciding whether to be a researcher or a practitioner.

Talking about upgrading medical technology, Russia lacks many of the high-tech developments that already exist elsewhere. So let us create special zones for developing innovative technology and then spread it around the country.

We also discussed the need to renovate the academy. And I hope you support us in this because it really needs to be done, Mr Putin. You see, our academy has a heroic history. Some argue, and rightly so, that victory in WWII would not have been possible if not for the hospital staff who did everything they could to help wounded soldiers recover and rejoin the ranks. Indeed, more than 70% of wounded officers and men returned to the frontline.

The academy was set up in 1944. It has excellent traditions and great potential.

Vladimir Putin: How many research centres does your academy incorporate at the moment?

Ivan Dedov: Fifty-two. They're all different, of course; some are larger than others. The Health Ministry's high-tech centres are now gaining momentum, both in Moscow and St Petersburg. And we should make sure they work effectively. Lately, we have been thinking about technology and personnel support. It's upsetting that we lack many modern technologies. Another problem is legislative support, which may be crucial in cases such as performing transplants on children with life-threatening conditions.

Vladimir Putin: In this particular case, it's the legislation we lack, but not the technology, right?

Ivan Dedov: Precisely. There's no adequate regulatory basis. And then again, we should raise awareness, explaining to people why we need this and not that. There's a great deal of outstanding problems to be solved.

One of our key priorities is the advancement of genome research. The Health Ministry now has two or three bases for the large-scale sequencing of genomes. This opens up spectacular opportunities in genetic forecasts, preventive medicine, cell technology... And the list goes on. Research in this area is progressing quickly. There's an excellent programme to develop new medications and diagnostic systems. We need to be more integrated into the international research effort.

Vladimir Putin: You know about our programme to further the pharmaceutical industry, don't you?

Ivan Dedov: Sure. This industry has a strong foundation. We have great schools. There was a time when most of our products were domestically made. We used to live in an isolated country, with few imports, and many valuable developments came about in that era through the creative efforts of homegrown talent.

At our meeting at the academy today, we all agreed that we should again unite our efforts and work together for the benefit of the nation.

Vladimir Putin: Definitely.

Ivan Dedov: So your support (will be crucial). Tomorrow we'll be electing a new governing board and I'll report to you about it afterward.

Vladimir Putin: Sure.

Ivan Dedov: I hope you'll be able to find some time for a meeting.

Vladimir Putin: I certainly will.

Ivan Dedov: We're currently working on a programme to promote innovation in medicine, you know, one that would span the full chain – from scientific research to R&D – in diagnostics, treatment and prevention of various diseases. We'll try to estimate the costs as we go along. There're projects we could postpone and ones we should launch right away. Ms Golikova gives us a lot of support. We didn't have such interaction before.

Today we also discussed the problem-solving scheme known as the rule of three C's: conflict, which is always counterproductive, consensus, and compromise. At the academy, we decided to stick to the latter two...

Vladimir Putin: Good. Once again, congratulations and best wishes to you.