Doctor and TV presenter argued with the Russian Orthodox Church

2021-01-05

The head of the department for external church relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, advised elderly people not to attend church at Christmas. Renowned doctor and TV host Alexander Myasnikov commented on the position of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), stating that for older people, isolation is a significant risk factor for death, it undermines their will to live. He further added that older people have lived their lives and have the right to decide for themselves what to do. “No one can escape death, but the Soul is eternal,” said Myasnikov.

A doctor and TV host Alexander Myasnikov

It’s a very interesting paradox: the Russian Orthodox Church advises older people who are at an increased risk of contracting the deadly coronavirus, not to attend services, but at the same time, a well-known doctor declares something completely opposite, announcing the need for older people to communicate more in order to thereby preserve their will to live and, moreover, to think about the Soul. Of course, the lockdown can cause low mood. However, church services can hardly be considered an entertainment event. In addition, a depressive mood is much less dangerous for life and health than a severe infectious disease that caused high mortality. Moreover, at the moment in Russia there is a tense epidemiological situation, and the number of hospital beds is insufficient.

The depressed mood of the elderly in modern Russia is explained not so much by the prohibition to attend the church as by the meager pensions that look more like charity. On the one hand, low income forces retirees to constantly think about how to provide for themselves. On the other hand, low pensions show the State’s disregard for people who have honestly worked their entire lives.

Meanwhile, the situation with the spread of infection could have been less tense if the system of state sanitary and epidemiological surveillance had not been destroyed, if it had not been for the “optimization” of the health care system, during which many hospitals were closed, the number of beds was almost halved compared to 1990. The ambulance system has also undergone reform, which significantly reduced its efficiency. And the result was not long in coming. The epidemic, which has become a test of the strength of both the health care system and the entire socio-political system, has shown the real meaning of loud statements of officials about the benefits of optimization and about improving the health care system. Both the new model of national health care system and political system failed this test.

The Russian state model is neither able to create an effective health care system, nor to provide older workers with everything they need. Russians will have to decide whether they need a system that does not meet the necessary human rights and needs.