The transplantologist Oleg Rummo is the guest at the TV program Simple Questions on World Health Day.
We have an opportunity to speak with one of the most famous doctors in Belarus. It is Oleg Rummo, a transplantologist. Good evening!
Oleg Rummo, head of the Republican Scientific and Practical Center of Organ and Tissue Transplantation:
How medicine quality level assessment is formed? What can be a criterion for the right assessment? Nowadays, people get medical treatment in Germany and undergo surgery in the USA… We often meet at different TV programs and say that Belarusian medicine is at a high level. But it is the result of different rates and information intersection. So, how do you think, what is the main assessment criterion?
There is no any absolute criterion or assessment where it is better and where it’s worse. Many people in the USA, Germany, France, Japan or any other country in the world speak ill of their medicine. It’s obvious that we have some stereotypes about the best German automobile, the best Italian footwear, and so on. Of course, these statements prevent us from feeling our significance. I am not trying to say that Belarusian medicine is the best in the world. I believe that every country’s medicine should be assessed by three criteria. The first one is medical high technologies development level. The second criterion is availability. If medical aid is not available, you can save anyone, but nobody needs it in your country. And the third one is economic efficiency. No matter what they say, but
great money are invested in medicine.
If we are going to assess any country’s medicine by these three parameters, we won’t find any ideal one. In some countries, such as America, high technologies prevail, but it requires colossal sums. It’s business.
Some cities in America exist only because of their medical clinics.
Can you imagine any Belarusian town existing only because of a clinic? It’s impossible in Belarus.
Some countries as, for example, Belarus try to find a golden mean. It’s natural that it’s impossible to pay attention to both availability and high technologies and to achieve results in both. So we try to find a balance. We pass ahead in one sphere, while the other is behind. It takes time to understand where we should reach other countries and where we can pass our experience to others.
Mr. Rummo, every person, probably, faced such a situation. People want to thank doctors for their help. I faced it myself more than once and made some presents, gave souvenirs. But all these presents are taken as something abnormal in our anticorruption society. How can we change our history and mentality? On the one hand, it’s our Slavic tradition to thank. I read again Doctor Zhivago novel by Boris Pasternak. He writes that patients came to him with chicken and eggs as presents. This tradition has always been in place. On the other hand, speaking about modern society we look at Europe and say that giving these gifts is wrong. What is the way out?
it is a delusion that this desire to thank doctors is a Slavic tradition.
I am aware of medicine in other countries, as Germany, Japan and so on. And I can assure you that people from other countries also have this desire.
I think it’s important to understand only one thing. If this is sincere gratitude which is not a reason for the doctor to do their job better, that’s all right. But if the doctor works only for such presents, they are not doctors anymore, in spite of all their services and degrees.
The doctor should clearly understand that it doesn’t matter how patients thank and who they are (from a usual worker to a multimillionaire or a statesman), we must do everything we can. If the doctor drops this level, they have nothing to do in medicine.
Have you ever dismissed employees because of unclear situations with presents?
I have had some conversations with those employees who have such propensities we speak about. I tried to explain that it’s not right. Fortunately, I didn’t have to dismiss them, as they preferred to quit themselves. But I was glad deep inside, because I didn’t have to make a hard decision or become an offender as they were.
Doctors have low salaries, if we compare with the average salary. Can we speak about a brain drain? Do our best specialists move abroad?
This situation is simple and difficult at the same time.
To be honest, nobody offers millions of dollars for a job.
But when you choose between a $15,000 salary and the Belarusian one, you still have to weigh the pros and cons of a foreign country, its people mentality, and safety. You should remember that you’ll have to spend some time without your family, friends and without many other things that are an integral part of life in the mature age. We speak about the mature age, because nobody will offer a job to those who are only 23.
Mr. Rummo, you are a unique specialist, it’s not a secret. So I’m sure that you have been offered a job abroad, haven’t you?
When I told you about job offers with 15,000 dollars or euros, I meant the offers I received. But neither I nor my family liked the terms and conditions. Such factors as my parents, family, friends, safety, and foreign ideology stopped me. However, when you are 23, you should make a career and choose where to live with the family. So when you are weighing up what good has been done by absolutely foreign people, and when you want to develop it, there is some sense. But in my case, for example, I have to take into consideration too many things. Except for my family and future, I have also to think about my work team.
Do our doctors get job offers from the countries of the Third World?
Mr. Rummo, what is the most terrifying illness of 2016?
It’s a difficult question. I can’t say what exact illness is the most important to fight with. They used to say that AIDS was a scourge of humanity, but this myth was exploded 5-10 years later. Everybody knows there are countries where about a quarter of the population is infected and nobody dies. There was also a theory that Slavs are not prone to this illness. Then, the world fought against Ebola fever, though hepatitis C takes a tremendous amount of lives every year.
Many say that a heart attack and cardiac insufficiency has become a modern humankind scourge.
Then, cancer terrified humanity. They say that the longer we live, the more cancer illnesses we have. There is an opinion that if a person doesn’t have cancer, they just haven’t lived till it. This is a natural process of human death.
I think we shouldn’t be afraid of illnesses.
We should timely avert the challenges our nature and history can send; or we should find the answer as soon as possible. In my opinion,
the most terrifying illness today is that we stop being humans.
We fight against each other, kill and destroy whole nations. This is the scariest thing. This is the reason we can’t cope with illnesses in the XXI century.
Doctors see people passing away even more often than the military at wars. You see death. What is it like?
I can’t get used to it. I am convinced that if one day I get used to death, it would be a signal to quit my profession. I am always recalling a case that happened right after my graduation from the medical institute. It was the time of a mandatory first job placement and I had to search for something suitable for that time. I was upset and nervous and decided to tell one famous and wise professor about that unpleasant situation. He looked at me through the glasses and said:
“Young man, there are only two problems in life. The first is death and the second is illness.
One of them is solvable (illness), while the other, unfortunately, puts an end to everything. All other things are pleasant.”
When I analyze my life long after this case, I understand that he was right. I find it the end to everything creating a person, an individual that we can call Oleg Rummo or Sergey Ivanov or whoever else. All this ends at one moment. It’s clear this process is inevitable. But I can’t get used to the thought that everything is over. It’s difficult and impossible to me.
Thank you for your time and for this interview. I have to say it was impressive. And I hope we will have a conversation some time.
With pleasure! Thank you!