Ailing health care system

Russia's health care system is on the verge of collapse. With a freeze on capital investment, the situation has deteriorated to such an extent that a leading hospital in Moscow has resorted to using cats to root out mice and vermin from operation theatres.

One of the more serious facets of the crisis is that the supply of essential drugs has reduced to a trickle. In 1992, Russia produced 59 per cent of its requirements for cardiovascular drugs and met the shortfall through cheap imports from eastern Europe. But with the collapse of the distribution system, now 45 per cent of the demand for basic drugs will not be met, according to health ministry estimates.