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J Adolesc Health. 1996 Oct;19(4):308-14.

Adolescent health in Russia: a view from Moscow and St. Petersburg.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 55455, USA.



The purpose of this study was to report on the current state of adolescent health in Russia.


By means of site visits, literature review, discussions with Russian colleagues, and a scientific meeting in Moscow, data were collected on health status of youth, the organization of health services, and professional training.


Youth over the age of 14 are served in the adult health care system. Youth clinics are just now emerging. Substance abuse is a major issue; AIDS is rare. Rates of sexual intercourse parallel many western European countries; however, contraception is expensive by Russian standards and often not used. Those with behavioral, physical, and intellectual impairments tend to be educated in special settings and managed by psychiatrists.


The Russian health care system is undergoing radical transformation. The traditional Soviet system, with its heavy reliance on medical interventions and prolonged inpatient hospitalizations, is threatened by a lack of resources. Privatization of health care poses additional threats, as do the social transformations that are occurring. These changes create a very uncertain future for the health and well-being of youth in Russia.


This article describes some health issues among adolescents in Russia and the health care delivery system for treating reproductive health problems, AIDS, mental health problems, and drug and alcohol dependency. Russian professionals expect improvements in the Russian health care system to meet the needs of a generation of grandchildren. Physicians and patients must now contend with primitive conditions and almost no resources. Medicines are in short supply. The health care system relies heavily on in-patient care. Equipment is very out-of-date. Adolescents older than 15 years of age are treated in the adult system. There are 14 district hospitals in Moscow for treating children aged under 14 years. Medical care is provided free of charge to all children. The average pediatric length of stay is 11.2 days, due to poor home conditions. Community clinics are linked to hospitals and treat children under 14 years of age. Family planning services are not available for teenagers at district clinics. Special family planning clinics provide adolescent contraception and counseling for children aged under 15 years with parents' consent. Family planning and abortion are available to children aged over 15 years without parental consent. The Center for Adolescent Reproductive Health in St. Petersburg is one of the few adolescent-specific health clinics in the country. The center provides sex education classes, gynecologic services, cosmetology, dysmenorrhea treatment, acupuncture, and AIDS surveillance. Resources for drug treatment are limited. Drug treatment at the St. Petersburg Narcological Center includes detoxification, medical stabilization, psychological rehabilitation, and vocational rehabilitation. Outreach programs include a hotline and school education groups. The authors were impressed with the dedication, knowledge, and strong desire for up-to-date information of professionals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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