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[b]Development of medicine in regions could be interesting to foreign scientists, students and tourists[/b]The Belarusian healthcare system has recently received good impetus for development. Medical institutions countrywide have strengthened their material and technical base and purchased contemporary equipment for hospitals and medical universities. Meanwhile, new methods of diagnostics and treatment of various diseases have been launched. Similar processes are taking place in every region, considerably enhancing their attractiveness. For example, Vitebsk’s doctors have successfully organised scientific conferences and are conducting joint research with foreign colleagues. Moreover, they’re ready to implement several promising international projects, requiring interaction with specialists in education and tourism.
Development of medicine in regions could be interesting to foreign scientists, students and tourists

The Belarusian healthcare system has recently received good impetus for development. Medical institutions countrywide have strengthened their material and technical base and purchased contemporary equipment for hospitals and medical universities. Meanwhile, new methods of diagnostics and treatment of various diseases have been launched. Similar processes are taking place in every region, considerably enhancing their attractiveness. For example, Vitebsk’s doctors have successfully organised scientific conferences and are conducting joint research with foreign colleagues. Moreover, they’re ready to implement several promising international projects, requiring interaction with specialists in education and tourism.
Speaking of science, Vitebsk’s State Medical University has been enjoying long-term collaboration with the Institute for Chemical Biology and Fundamental Medicine at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Siberian Branch. “In the late 1990s, the head of the repair enzymes laboratory from this academic Russian institute, Prof. Georgy Nevinsky, invited us to work together on the catalytic activity of antibodies,” recollects Igor General, who heads the Clinical Microbiology Chair at Vitebsk’s State Medical University. “Since then, two important projects have been realised.”
After their first project, scientists proved that the appearance of antibodies destroying nucleic acids is an indicator of the presence of autoimmune diseases, including those relating to the thyroid gland. This has enabled them to develop a new diagnostic test. Their second project was dedicated to bacterial infections relating to arthritis and enteric infections. The third is likely to tackle diseases such as disseminated sclerosis. If scientists’ guesses are confirmed, they should be able to help slow down the disease.
A new morphologic building, which opened in September, is a vital step forward for the University. The six storey glass and concrete building boasts the most contemporary medical equipment and has alleviated overcrowding in student classrooms. It has been highly praised by scientists from Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Sweden, Austria, China and Switzerland, being unique within the CIS. Its equipment is of the highest level, including personal German binocular microscopes, video projection systems — which show images on huge screens — and an automated system of histo-chemical dyeing; these are aiding innovative progress regarding scientific investigations.
The international Acute Issues of Disease Morphologic Diagnostics scientific conference, held at the Anatomic Pathology Chair, has been a great success. Swedish Professor Gцran Elmberger asserts that the University’s new equipment rivals that of the best European universities. Accordingly, it has been proposed that training seminars for the European Society of Morthologists be organised there in future.
VSMU’s integration into the world educational system covers not only the Western direction. Vadim Pristupa, the Dean of the Department for Training Foreign Citizens, tells us about the University’s new project. “Traditionally, foreigners at our University used to study in Russian; however, European educational establishments tend to offer a short-term introductory course in English, so we’ve also introduced this innovation,” he explains. “To be competitive, catching potential students from Sri Lanka (accounting for a third of VSMU foreign students), we’ve developed programmes enabling them to pass introductory courses in chemistry, biology and Russian language in their homeland.”
The Health Ministry of Belarus supports this initiative, with an agreement to be signed with foreign partners. The first graduates of the Sri Lanka Academy, improving local secondary education, could arrive in Vitebsk in the autumn of 2012. Meanwhile, over 70 youngsters from Turkmenistan, who are to study at the Medical University in line with an intergovernmental agreement, are already accommodated in hostels.
“Modernisation our training base will enhance the quality of education to a new, contemporary level,” stresses VSMU Rector Valery Deikalo. “We plan to construct a new, central scientific-research laboratory, as well as two hostels and a swimming pool. A new medical library, large enough to accommodate over 300 students, teachers and doctors at any one time, from any corner of Belarus, is to open very soon.”
Alluring prospects are opening up before practicing Vitebsk doctors; it’s no secret that Russian guests account for almost half of spa places in Vitebsk region today. Some travel especially to Vitebsk’s Maternity House No. 1, which is equipped with the latest technology, while others go to Vitebsk’s Regional Hospital No. 2, which also boasts the latest proctologic technologies.
Vitebsk’s Regional Healthcare Department is opening a tourist agency to attract foreigners keen on receiving medical services: besides the above mentioned areas, cardio-surgery, paediatrics, cosmetology and dentistry are to be offered. Oncological patients also receive excellent treatment in the region. According to the latest monitoring, it’s more convenient for residents from Russian Smolensk and Pskov to travel to Vitebsk than to Moscow or St. Petersburg to receive good quality medical services. Following the global financial and economic crisis, medical services in the Baltic States and Scandinavian countries are less affordable, so Latvians and Estonians are taking interest in Belarusian clinics.
“We have medical institutions, equipment and specialists ready to provide private services at the highest level,” notes Yuri Derkach, who heads Vitebsk’s Regional Executive Committee’s Healthcare Department. “Moreover, we are trying to open new centres, oriented towards foreigners, to places often visited by foreign tourists.”
For example, around $0.5m has been allocated to reconstruct and equip a dentistry policlinic in the district centre of Glubokoe. In autumn and winter, this facility will also serve the local population — providing free, state medical aid as well as private services. A cosmetology centre is to open in Baran, near Orsha, with a similar medical institution planned for Braslav. Vitebsk’s Regional Healthcare Department has already liaised with Russian partners in offering private services.
Its specialists hope that Vitebsk and Belarusian tourist agencies will become regular suppliers of clients for medical tours, with Vitebsk’s Regional Hospital’s tourist agency co-ordinating the whole process. Its website should become operational by summer 2011, providing complete information on the range of services and prices to potential customers. Medical tourism will undoubtedly require further development, with hotels, roadside services, site improvement in cities, beaches and leisure facilities needed. Why shouldn’t a foreigner, arriving in Glubokoe for dentistry services, visit Sophia Cathedral in Polotsk or the Marc Chagall Art Centre in Vitebsk?

By Sergey Golesnik
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