Russia, Still a Third World Country in Many Ways
MOSCOW -- Russia's severe tuberculosis problem is about to get much worse, increasing the risk that the dangerous drug-resistant strains that are common here will spread, causing outbreaks elsewhere, local health officials and other experts warn.As the ethnic Russian population dies away, and is replaced by third world tribal people, the health and industrial infrastructure of the country can be expected to shrivel. It is not an image of Russia that one wishes to cling to, but it will not go away unless the travesty that is modern Russia experiences drastic reform.
Preliminary surveys have recorded an uptick in infections, which experts say could be the start of a surge fueled by declining living standards and deteriorating medical care resulting from the country's worst economic slowdown in a decade.
But Russian officials and health specialists also blame the government's failure to order supplies of key medicines last year, a blunder that could strengthen antibiotic-resistant forms of TB and threaten wealthier countries that have all but eradicated the disease.
Russia already has one of the highest rates of TB in the world. In parts of its Far East, the infection rate is three times what the World Health Organization considers epidemic levels. The government has made progress in recent years, with infection rates falling from a peak in 2000, but health officials are worried that those gains are now in jeopardy.
Preliminary state statistics show the rate of infection growing from 83.2 cases per 100,000 people in 2007 to 85.2 in 100,000 last year, and anecdotal evidence from hospitals and clinics around the country suggests that the numbers are still climbing.
By comparison, the infection rate in the United States is about 8 in 100,000, with about 0.2 percent of American TB cases ending in death. In Russia, about 18 percent of TB patients die of the disease, according to WHO figures. _WaPo_via_LaRussophobe
More on Russia's woes at abu al-fin.
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