Financial Cluster Jeopardized the Right of Non-Residents of Moscow to Receive Antiretroviral Treatment at Their Place of Residence

News1 March 2019

The Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry of Finance didn’t like the bill intended to force Moscow Healthcare Department to provide antiretroviral therapy to non-residents despite the fact that it was drafted in response to Dmitry Medvedev’s personal request.

According to Kommersant, the draft law developed by the Ministry of Health and obliging the regions to provide antiretroviral treatment to all HIV positive people, was not supported by the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Finance.

Amendments to the Federal Act on Public Healthcare in question would secure the right of patients to receive antiretroviral treatment where they actually live (and temporarily registered) regardless of the place of their permanent registration.

The newspaper’s source in the government reports that the bill was not supported by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economy because of “difficulties that might arise” during its implementation which are linked “with defining a number of temporary residents that have to be taken into account when developing state guarantees territorial programs”.

Kommersant reporters point out that residents might stay in a region for less than a year while programs are usually approved for three years’ period.

On top of that, the ministry representatives referred to some problems in avoiding duplication of information in the process of developing programs of this kind as “citizens are registered at their actual place of residence without being removed from registry at their permanent residence”.

It is worth mentioning that antiretroviral drugs in Russia are purchased with the federal budget funds not once in three years but once in a year and only afterwards being distributed among regional AIDS centers. To avoid duplication a unified database of HIV positive patients was created in the country some time ago and, moreover, the Ministry of Health reported in November of 2018 that it intended to change the way of purchasing medicine and would further on purchase it according to the information from this database.

Indeed, now to register at a local AIDS center in most regions of the country temporary registration is enough. It is only Moscow AIDS Center that seems to have a problem with that and denies non-residents of the capital medical care on a regular basis.

Vadim Pokrovsky, Head of the Federal AIDS Center, told AIDS.CENTER earlier that the survey in the capital had detected 90,000 HIV infections, half of them among “non-residents of Moscow”.

A large number of HIV positive people living in Moscow still either have to travel to their native towns to get treatment or give up therapy altogether if they do not have money for trips like that.

AIDS.CENTER told earlier that the reason for turning down patients of this kind in the capital is local. Specifically, Moscow Healthcare Department’s strong unwillingness to provide treatment to non-residents (even if it is paid with the federal budget).

Considering the Department being so adamant about the problem, in order to normalize the situation in the largest city of the country and to implement the request of the Head of the Russian Government Dmitry Medvedev of 23 December 2017, the ministry decided to amend the all-Russian law on its own. But its initiative unexpectedly faced resistance from the financial cluster, which was mentioned above.

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