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Money Alone Cannot Fix Russia's 'Demographic Crisis'

Russia “is in a demographic crisis, shedding 2.2 million people (or 1.6 percent of the population) since 2002, and the government is trying to encourage more women to bring Russian citizens into the world,” journalist Natalia Antonova writes in a Foreign Policy opinion piece, in which she describes her experience with the Russian medical system after “unexpectedly” becoming pregnant shortly after receiving her visa to work in Moscow.

“The prime minister has … pledged to spend 1.5 trillion rubles (about $54 billion) over the next four years on demographics-related projects such as raising life expectancy and increasing the birth rate by 30 percent,” she writes, adding that “[w]hile pumping money into maternal care is well and good, what these women most need is a change in the mainstream medical attitudes toward pregnancy and childbirth in Russia. … If the staff is not motivated to treat pregnant women like regular human beings, as opposed to mere prisoners to their condition, all the money in the world won’t improve Russia’s maternal care system” (8/26).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.