Coronavirus ‘corrects’ cancer incidence in Tatarstan

Coronavirus ‘corrects’ cancer incidence in Tatarstan
Photo: Inna Serova

Will cancer crawl under the guise of COVID-19?

It was said about a reduction in the cancer incidence amid the coronavirus pandemic at a meeting of the Public Council in the Tatarstan Ministry of Health on 16 July. It was held within a pilot project on public goal and task setting of executive agencies of public power of the Republic of Tatarstan and public control over their achievement in the first half of 2020. The session was online, there were just several speakers and journalists in the hall, including a correspondent of Realnoe Vremya.

The information that the incidence of malignant tumours in the first half of 2020 turned out by 0,5% lower than during the analogous period in 2019 was communicated by Director of the Republic Cancer Clinic’s Organisation and Methods Department Kamil Shakirov. At the same time, he drew the attention of participants in the meeting that the COVID-19 pandemic could help improve the statistics: the population’s check-up was suspended during general self-isolation.

“All this can take its toll later, this is what I am afraid of,” Chairman of the Public Council in the Tatarstan Ministry of Health Chingis Makhmutov commented on this news for Realnoe Vremya. “Because, as a rule, the first cases of the disease are detected in a check-up.”

While patients with cancer have received all help, so the improvement of another indicator — cancer death rate — looks quite logical. According to Kamil Shakirov, the death rate from tumours, including malignant ones, reduced by 2,5% in Tatarstan for 5 months in 2020 compared to 191,7 during the analogous period in 2019.

Genetic laxity

Vice Health Minister of Tatarstan Ildar Fatikhov talked about the key results of the fight against the spread of the coronavirus infection in the first half of the year. Having noted that “our republic was one of the first in the country to receive experience in working with such patients”, he said that at the moment coronavirus patients were received in 35 health care establishments in Tatarstan with 4,928 COVID-19 beds in total.

The Ministry of Health signed 18 state contracts to purchase 7,736 units of medical equipment to these establishments, the vice minister said. Over 5,900 health workers have provided help to coronavirus patients — 1,905 doctors and over 4,000 nurses.

“Of course, we felt the burden that fell on health workers of COVID-19 hospitals and solved the problem by sending doctors from independent hospitals there and retraining the workers,” Fatikhov said. “The pandemic made significant corrections to the operation of health care establishments.”

And not Ildar Fatikhov but Chingis Makhmutov decided to answer a question that was sent online from one of the members of the Public Council of the Health Ministry: “Why are the official statistics on COVID-19 patients much lower than the real numbers?”:

“Do you have different numbers? We don’t.”

“If only the numbers were lowered… Protection measures are very simplified. People relax, especially when it comes to mask and gloves wearing,” he continued.

“As for the people who don’t realise the threat of the pandemic, constant work is done,” Makhmutov disagreed. “It is impossible to appoint a police worker to everyone. I think we have genetic laxity.”

How to lure a doctor at work

The results of the fight with a lack of health workers in public establishments in the first half of 2020 were discussed at the meeting as well.

It turned out that as of 1 July, policlinics had 6,925 people out of 9,846 employees. The need for doctors in Tatarstan was 1,276 people, 870 of whom in polyclinics. The need for nurses was 732 people, 448 of whom in polyclinics.

The need for doctors in Tatarstan was 1,276 people, 870 of whom in polyclinics

It is planned to change the situation with the help of grants from the Tatarstan government, their amount is considered to rise from 500,000 to 800,000 rubles — it is meant to invite at least 120 specialists within this programme. In the programme for one-time compensation payouts Rural Doctor and Rural Assistance (from a million to half a million rubles for a doctor and from 500,000 to 750,000 rubles for an assistant) in 2020, it is planned to pay the money to 85 doctors and 10 assistants (the programme started in June).

Director of the Department of Medical Training and Certification Alsu Zalyalova said that young doctors are monthly paid 1,794,5 rubles more, which is paid during the first three years of uninterrupted practice, and a one-time payout for domestic conveniences — 21,534 rubles.

During the first half of 2020, 358 young doctors were provided with such public support, 31 specialists of them were for the first time paid a one-time payout and a monthly increment, 327 specialists kept receiving increments during the second and third year of employment.

By Inna Serova