Problem of ‘hospital orphans’ – Putin’s order has not been fulfilled

Problem of “hospital orphans” – the President’s order has not been fulfilled


On July 1, the President’s order concerning hospital orphans expired. Following a meeting with NGOs in January 2020, President Vladimir Putin promised to introduce a social service and regulations, since the work of hospital nannies for orphans should be paid for by the state.

However, the President’s orders have still not been fulfilled. Olga Vlasova, Director of the Foundation Our Children announced this on Facebook. Ms Vladova noted that Vladimir Putin made this promise publicly to Marina Aksenova, Director of the Children’s Foundation Sunny City, as he looked her in the eyes after she told the President about the problem.

Elena Alshanskaya, President of the Charitable Foundation Volunteers in support of Orphans, told ASI that her Foundation grew as a result of her own experience of lying in hospital with her child, right next to hospital orphans. For 15 years now, she has been trying to reach out to state authorities to solve this problem.

Elena Alshanskaya says, “There are two problems. First of all, children removed from their families or found abandoned on the streets are taken to hospitals for medical examination before being taken to an organisation for orphaned children. Secondly, children from orphanages are taken to hospital for treatment, with no support provided”.

“Healthy children should not be overexposed to hospitals”

In 2015, Volunteers in support of Orphans successfully worked to change the law so that children, when removed from their families or found abandoned, would be immediately taken to children’s institutions and only then taken for outpatient examination. However, in many regions this is still not being implemented.

The President of the foundation said, “this is a completely senseless, delusional situation because in 99% of cases the children do not have any symptoms of illness. Regardless of this, however, they continue to take them to hospitals.”

Alshanskaya explained that all social institutions can ensure a child, if there is a risk they will infect others with something, can be kept in a separate space. A doctor can be called out to assess their health, take tests and treat them as outpatients. She stressed, “A hospital is not a place which healthy children should be overexposed to; they shouldn’t be lying in a hospital ward.”

A child’s health should not be completely dependent on the capabilities of public organisations

A small child or a child with disabilities cannot stay in a hospital alone. Someone needs to take care of them: to wash, feed, change their nappies. However, orphanage won’t provide every child with a chaperone. Alshanskaya added, that this can’t be demanded of nurses either, since they don’t have the capabilities, nor the time to do this.

Ms Alshanskaya said, “In an orphanage, the staff are designed for the needs of the group, not individually for each child. It is impossible to allocate a caregiver to leave the group for each hospital visit – especially if we are talking about children with severe disabilities who require long term hospitalisation (a month or longer) in order to undergo rehabilitation or for long recovery periods following surgery. Our Foundation was one of the first to fund nannies to stay with children whilst they are being treated in hospitals.”

Volunteers in support of Orphans offer different solutions to the problem, including a separate budget provision for orphanages, so that they can pay for nannies by contacting recruitment agencies. Also, as the Sunny City foundation suggested to Putin, a separate service and subsidy can be provided for this as well.

Ms Alshanskaya says, “it’s absolute insanity that whether a child receives adequate and timely medical care or not depends on NGOs, and whether or not they can identify sponsors to pay for a nanny. The state needs to help, and not just ignore these children, thinking ‘great, the Foundations are paying for this, so its normal!’ No, it’s not normal. A child’s health should not be reliant on the capabilities of a third-party public organisation.”


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