Boom in motherhood
Birth rates skyrocketing, rising 30 percent over past decade
Achievements in Belarusian medicine have been globally recognised, with the country ranked fourth worldwide for having the lowest child and maternal mortality. Meanwhile, our birth rates are demonstrating a true record: in ten years, they’ve risen by 30 percent (the highest since the late 1990s).
Most families have two children while some have three
“In terms of accessibility of services relating to reproductive health, we rival such states as France, Finland and Luxembourg,” explains the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Health, Physical Culture, Family and Youth Policy of the Belarusian National Assembly’s House of Representatives, Alexander Tsetsokho.
Last year was full of contradictions for Belarus’ Health Ministry: a boom resulted in the birth of 119,509 babies (birth rates rose by 9.6 percent, which was the largest hike in two decades). However, in late 2015, two infants unexpectedly died in maternity wards in Orsha and Novopolotsk, to the despair of not only families but the doctors involved. Naturally, everyone wishes to avoid similar tragedies in future.
In recent years, Belarus has ranked among the top 50 states for health during pregnancy and delivery. Our perinatal health technologies are our calling card, having been built upon the legacy inherited from Soviet times. Two decades ago, Belarus launched reform to preserve the budget system and the territorial principle of health care.
The country allocates around 4 percent of its GDP to health protection, and over 70 percent of the state budget is directed towards public health. Time has proven that this strategy is fruitful, with even rural areas well provided for, and urban centres boasting specialist care, with cutting edge technologies. Over the past ten years, maternity wards at district hospitals have been modernised and perinatal centres at district and regional level have received the latest equipment.
The most complicated cases are overseen at the Republican Mother and Child National Research Centre, while regional specialists can consult medical experts online or via teleseminar.
Figures confirm the efficiency of the Belarusian system of obstetric aid, since 82 percent of babies weighing just 500g-1kg do survive. “We’ve achieved these results thanks to our two national programmes of demographic security, as well as through technical modernisation of maternity wards and improved staff training,” states Belarus’ Health Minister, Vasily Zharko. Those who use state funding to receive their training as a doctor accept placement wherever the state sees fit, which has solved the problem of rural areas lacking qualified personnel; 80 percent of needs are now met.
The World Health Organisation believes that Belarus has achieved the Millennium Development Goals set in the spheres of maternity and childhood protection. “Efforts to improve health care have produced clear results, with a zero mortality index for delivering mothers: the highest not only in Europe but worldwide,” states WHO Regional Director for Europe Zsuzsanna Jakab.
By Gennady Molokhov