Letter: Stalin to blame for TB epidemic

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The Independent Online
YOUR front-page report on the rise in tuberculosis in Siberia ('Soviet fall fuels world TB crisis', 8 May) underlines the lethal results of the breakdown of health services and of the poverty that results from hyperinflation.

As in Britain in the 19th century, tuberculosis in the former Soviet Union is thriving on poor nutrition and lack of health education, the conditions that accompany poverty.

Like the team from Medical Emergency Relief International, whose visit to Siberia you reported, we have found that some long-outmoded treatments are still being used in Russia. Our teams have found many Russian colleagues who are thoroughly receptive to international developments in healthcare, and it is these colleagues with whom we develop long-term partnership projects.

Their isolation is a legacy of Stalin, who told Soviet doctors and scientists that they were the best in the world and promptly cut them off from the outside. Most are acutely aware that this has been to their detriment.

British aid could well be directed not only to improvement in the financial infrastructure but also to health education.

Dr Stewart Britten

Director

Association for the Promotion of Healthcare in the former Soviet Union

London N6

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