17 April 2024, Wednesday, 22:15
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'Karanik Must Be Held Accountable '

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'Karanik Must Be Held Accountable '

The shocking truth about the COVID-19 epidemic in Belarus.

Lidziya Tarasenka, endoscopist and gastroenterologist, coordinator of the Medical Solidarity Fund, spoke in a big interview on the "Zhizn Malina" channel about why medicine cannot be out of politics, how the Ministry of Health continues to lie and how important it is to deal with the (un)responsible actions of the authorities in the situation with the coronavirus.

"There is a lot of politics in our lives, even if we don't talk about people who deal with it professionally," says the doctor. "And the whole story that "doctors should be out of politics" is a bullshit manipulation of propaganda, which tries to impose a completely unsustainable idea on you.

Because there's quite a lot of politics in everything we do, not as a physical organism but as part of society. When you decide (or don't decide) what part of your taxes goes to medicines for your children and what part goes to salaries for officials, that's politics too. And I would like to decide such things myself.

Being at work in a state institution (the doctor has worked for 6 years in the Republican Scientific and Practical Centre of Oncology and Radiology named after N. Aleksandrov - note), you can't avoid some political issues either. And in fact, you make a lot of conformist choices. You communicate with officials you don't like, with KGB officers you don't like - and you don't tell them to go to the frost to another doctor, but you treat them, smile and everything.

This is, of course, not a pleasant moment. Although all people get sick, it is unpleasant when you know that this patient you are treating is from the KGB.

The doctor said that purchases of equipment, which are always approved by the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus, each time went through humiliation: officials actually accused medical practitioners of being corrupt and wanting to buy something more expensive with "state money".

"How did I react? As if it were an inevitable evil. Up to some point it seemed that these people genuinely did not understand what was going on, and if you explained it to them well enough, you might have a better chance of getting through".

Lidziya Tarasenka recalls leaving public health care in 2018:

"At some point, the desire to ensure a professional living environment, that surface tension that you create in this bubble, just collapses, and you realise: that's it, there's not enough air anymore. All the things that used to be bearable have become unbearable.

Although in my case there was also such an individual thing - the equipment that we once bought and which was just super-level - it became clear that it was no longer possible to maintain the level we had set our sights on, that no one would repair, re-purchase and modernise it. And for me, apparently, the thought that I would have to put up with the deterioration in the quality of work was very painful.

At the moment, according to ByMedSol's calculations, there are about 38 thousand practicing doctors in Belarus - and this is 10 thousand less than the official Ministry of Health claims. The problem is not only in the actual shortage of doctors, says Tarasenka, but also that these official lies get into the state statistics, as well as to the World Health Organisation; these figures are used to calculate funding and in general the standard of living of the country.

"Even if we say that we have 38 thousand doctors, we don't know how many Belarusians there are in the country, whether there are 9 million of us or maybe 8 million.

38 thousand is much less than the propaganda claims. Although it is not some critical figure that says that medicine should become unaffordable.

The question is how these resources are used, what kind of work do these doctors do: do they go door-to-door and issue sick leaves with a temperature of 37? Do they participate in subbotniks and car rallies? Fill out endless amounts of paperwork with pens? Do they work for 32 hours in a row, which is not normal at all?

One of the problems in Belarusian healthcare is that there is no money. And the money that is available is spent in a completely bad way. And it's the same with human resources. A huge number of doctors work more than 24 hours a day without a break, and this is perceived by the society as a norm: they are heroes. And nobody thinks how a person would operate during the 25th hour of sleepless duty....."

Lidziya Tarasenka calls the actions of the authorities and top medical officials during the pandemic a genocide:

"Instead of recognising: yes, everything is bad, we are screwed, our resources are not prepared, but let's do what we can - the authorities are busy saving face at all costs. It doesn't matter what happens to people.

So they even refused help that could have been provided. There was a case when the Ministry of Health was offered vaccines on favourable terms and they said "no" when volunteer help was not accepted. This is a purposeful worsening of the situation and the Ministry of Health realised that. In particular, when it comes to Karanik (former Minister of Health of the Republic of Belarus - note) - he understood what he was doing.

And I believe that those involved should be held accountable. That fair trials should be held, not to push it under the carpet, but to work through and realise this experience, and if not to punish these people, then at least to isolate them so that they do not cause any more harm".

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