You are here

Treatment of Chernobyl accident consequences in Belarus

High levels of social standards have been introduced in the Belarusian lands affected by the Chernobyl accident, said Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko. Many residents of Ukraine use these standards too. First of all, medical help. The Republican Scientific and Practical Center for Radiation Medicine and Human Ecology, created some years ago in Gomel, I would even say recently, is popular among Russians from the border regions. Patients from many countries come here and be treated and share experience. Even the Japanese are turning to experience. Our special correspondent Olga Petrashevskaya met with the center's director Alexander Rozhko.

Alexander Rozhko, Director of the Republican Scientific and Practical Center for Radiation Medicine and Human Ecology:
After the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the question arose about the creation of new types of institutions that are able to solve problems in providing medical care at a high-tech level. And the decision to build this center was made back in Soviet times, in 1991. The Soviet Union collapsed, so there was a problem for the young state, how to finish the construction of this center... And only thanks to our President, it was decided that such an institution has the future, such an institution should provide medical assistance directly to the people affected by the disaster.

Could you compare technologies of the 1980s and today? Have they changed?

Alexander Rozhko:
Today we simply carry out transplantations. Today we easily operate on the back of the eye. Today we provide medical care for hematological patients, which we couldn't do in the 1980s.
Annually, about 70,000 people are examined by the institution.

There are people, but there is plenty of free space on the benches near the rooms. Is this a normal picture?

Alexander Rozhko:
Of course, it depends on time, because people depend on transport. Patients from districts outside of Gomel mostly come in the first half of the day. And our task, today is not to slow down their examination. And we adjust to them. If a patient needs something it is carried out within a day or two. Because a person has to go 300, 400 or 500 km. We know we also provide medical assistance to the affected populations of not only Belarus, but also Russia and Ukraine.

Marina Majdych, Cyril's mother (Ukraine):
We are from the city of Dnepropetrovsk. Our tests have shown all the terrible truth. 96.5% had blast cells. Unfortunately, during the 10 days in Ukraine our tests worsened every day, in general I as a mother had no hope for tomorrow. We turned to Germany and to Israel. But we chose Belarus. Here we now have hope and faith that my child will see tomorrow morning and tomorrow's sun.

Alexander Rozhko:
After Chernobyl, by and large, no one in the world had the experience of organizing medical care at this level, on such a scale. This is partially because, in principle, even the issues of Fukushima are incomparable with the issues of Chernobyl.

But now the Japanese are turning to you, aren't they?

Alexander Rozhko:
Certainly. First, they adopt the screening system. How to take care of your health, how many times you need to undergo a medical examination...

As a rule, many people, not only Belarusians, but also inhabitants of other countries go to Israel for treatment, and then they come to Belarus.

Alexander Rozhko:
Today, we use high-tech equipment which makes it possible to deliver a really accurate diagnosis (in 99% of cases).

Do not we blame Chernobyl too often? A patient comes and says that his head hurts. Well, we have Chernobyl, we answer.

Alexander Rozhko:
Today the psychological factor is definitely present. Our emotions play a great role. A person is surrounded not only by Chernobyl, but by his everyday life. And today, the issues of a healthy lifestyle are not only in Belarus, but all over the world are moving to the forefront. Today we can say that the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster, after 31 years, are really minimized, because if we take a population that belongs to the category of the disaster's victims, today life expectancy is at the level of the republican average.

Do you think that Belarusians have started caring more about their health?

Alexander Rozhko:
Gradually, Belarusians are starting to take more care about their health. Preventive medicine is also important. These are the issues of healthy lifestyles, healthy eating, these are good physical activities. This is the prevention of smoking too. Gold classics. And if we really feel better, our life expectancy will increase. The most important thing is the quality of life.

Many thanks for the interesting conversation.

Alexander Rozhko:
Thank you.

Treatment of Chernobyl accident consequences in Belarus