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Russian Medical Students Slam ‘Forced Labour’ In COVID-19 Wards

This picture taken on Might 1, 2020 exhibits workers sporting hazmat fits as a precaution towards the COVID-19 coronavirus checking a driver at a customs checkpoint on the border with Russia at Suifenhe, in China’s northeast Heilongjiang province. STR / AFP.


Fourth-year medical pupil Alexandra says she desires to turn out to be an an infection specialist, however when her faculty mentioned college students should do their required coaching in a coronavirus ward, she balked.

“This is not volunteering by choice. Coronavirus is dangerous, and they should give people a choice,” mentioned Alexandra, who research at Moscow’s high Sechenov medical college.

Daunted by the prospects of contracting the virus and infecting relations, or face expulsion, aspiring medics have protested the choice to ship college students of their fourth, fifth and sixth 12 months — who may be as younger as 21 — to finish their medical coaching in coronavirus clinics.

The ministry of well being introduced on April 27 that the measure would go into impact beginning Might 1, and solely college students with “medical contraindications” can refuse.

College students of all medical fields, together with dentistry and pediatrics, are affected, in response to the decree.

“Those who refuse to go will not get their qualification and can face expulsion,” mentioned Svetlana, a sixth-year pupil.

Confronted with a relentless each day improve of confirmed circumstances, which on Sunday pushed its complete quantity over 200,000, Russia is taking measures to workers its hospitals because it expands the variety of beds by 100,000 throughout the nation.

However many college students say they don’t need to be put in such circumstances with out allotted housing and assurances that full safety will probably be issued.

– ‘We’re not docs but’ –

Svetlana, Alexandra and different college students spoke to AFP on circumstances of anonymity as a result of fears of being expelled or different reprisals.

“We’re not doctors yet, our task is to get an education,” mentioned Alexandra. “There are fears that we will be of no use and spread the infection instead.”

She mentioned college students are provided coaching in common hospitals, or coronavirus hospitals, together with “red zones” the place sufferers are handled for COVID-19.

“There is no adequate protection, and it’s difficult to believe that if the doctors don’t have enough, they would find it for us,” she mentioned.

In an nameless attraction circulated on social networking websites, college students on the Pirogov medical college in Moscow have requested rector Sergei Lukyanov to make the coronavirus mobilisation “voluntary.”

The Pirogov college and the division of well being within the Moscow authorities didn’t reply to a request for remark.

On the Sechenov college, vice-rector Tatyana Litvinova mentioned that working with coronavirus sufferers wouldn’t be compulsory and the college wouldn’t punish anybody who declines.

“If a student does not want to do it, they can do their practice in a different establishment, nobody is going to force them,” she informed AFP, contradicting the textual content of the well being ministry decree.

She additional promised that college students in Moscow could be paid a wage of 100,000 rubles ($1,360 – 1,240 euros) and given private safety.

Ivan Konovalov, spokesman for the Alliance of Docs, a union related to opposition politician Alexei Navalny, mentioned that the authorities have turned to college students due to medical workers shortages.

“Healthcare reforms of the past years have led to the departure of many doctors” from the occupation, he mentioned.

This downside was even flagged by some authorities establishments just like the Audit Chamber, which said that “optimisation” of the sector — a euphemism for cuts — has left Russian healthcare weakened in the course of the epidemic.

– Scarcity of docs –

However Russia wants extra docs, not much less: workers are required at varied non permanent services arrange prior to now weeks for gentle coronavirus circumstances, because the variety of individuals testing constructive has grown by over 10,000 each day for over per week.

Greater than 100 docs have died treating the an infection, in response to an inventory of names saved by individuals within the occupation.

Konovalov mentioned that regardless of these difficulties, reaching out to college students will not be the answer.

“Even those in their last year don’t have experience to work in these conditions,” he mentioned.

College students have additionally launched an internet petition, demanding that the ministry decree is revoked. An Instagram marketing campaign towards “forced labour” is ongoing.

Not all Russians are sympathetic.

“Why did you choose this profession? To save lives!” one consumer of the VK community named Marina Goncharova commented in a bunch devoted to the topic. “If war breaks out, are you also going to hide behind your mother’s skirts?”


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