Staunton, August 28 – The gross imbalance between the very rich and the rest of the population is tragically characteristic of many countries, but its insupportability is obvious when one compares what some wealthy people spend on trifles with the needs of the most defenseless members of the population, incurably ill children.
Earlier this month it was reported that Vladimir Putin’s press secretary was given a watch costing almost a half million US dollars. For less than half of that amount, Russia will be able to open a fourth hospice for some of the thousands of incurably ill children in that country, children who now are at risk of dying in agony.
Viktor Shenderovich, a Moscow journalist, reports that “thousands of Russian children are not simply dying; they are dying in agony. It is not possible to save their lives, but it is possible to reduce their suffering.” Tragically, the Russian government has entirely different priorities, and consequently, he appeals to good Russians and others to help.
At the present time, there are only three hospices for children in Russia: one in Izhevsk, a second in St. Petersburg, and a third in Kazan. There are also palliative drug services for children remaining at home, he writes; but this program is entirely inadequate given the numbers of incurably ill youngsters (takiedela.ru/2015/08/hopice/).
According to unofficial data – and the Russian government these days does what it can not to report officially anything this untoward – there are approximately 278,000 Russian children who are suffering from incurable illnesses. Of these, approximately 42,000 need palliative care right now.
(On the Russian government’s hiding of key health data since the beginning of Putin’s second term, see, among others, Vadim Belotserkovsky’s extremely useful if discouraging discussion at vestnikcivitas.ru/pbls/3849.)
In the face of government cutbacks, including Putin’s infamous “optimization” of the medical system, the situation is getting worse. But private activists are trying to fill the gap, Shenderovich reports. Since 1997, the Raduga Charitable Center to Aid Children has been operating, and it has a palliative center.
Now that center needs money for the construction of a children’s hospice, “the first beyond the Urals, the first in Siberia, and the first in the Asiatic part of Russia.” A building has been found and is being remodeled, but funds are needs to equip it so that it can help the children there.
Raduga needs 13.5 million rubles (less than 200,000 US dollars) to complete the work. “In our case,” the journalist says, there are no hopes for the state” to do something. “The hope, the last, is in the [Russian] people … We cannot conquer death but defeating suffering is within out powers.”
Shenderovich includes at this site a form where people can make a contribution. So far, people have sent more than five million rubles (80,000 US dollars). Given the absurdity of Russian law, one fears recommending that anyone not a Russian citizen give money lest Raduga be denounced as a foreign agent. One prays that Russians will respond.