Public oversight bodies to protect children’s rights
The Public Supervision of the Rights of Orphans and Other Parentless Children Federal Bill, is currently at first reading stage in the State Duma (Parliament) of the Russian Federation (RF).
The committee of the public chamber of the RF dealing with social policy, labour relations and quality of life matters, has held hearings on issues relating to the protection of the rights of parentless children. Those responsible for working up the bill like Aleksei Golovan, a member of the RF’s presidential committee for the development of civil society and human rights, Valentin Gefter, the director of the Human Rights Institute and other specialists have been talking about the bill’s content. It provides for the establishment of a means of public oversight aimed at securing the rights of orphans and other parentless children who live in boarding institutions.
The deputy chair of the above public chamber committee, and chair of the regional organisation, Rights of the Child, Boris Altshuler, has made it clear that reforming the boarding institutions was one of the aims of the bill, stressing that public oversight should encourage family placements. He went on to say that the bill contained provisions reflecting the recommendations of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe relating to the rights of children for whom guardianship agencies are responsible. Some of the provisions were analogous to those of the Public Oversight of the Human Rights of and Support for Detainees Federal Act. However, as Mr Gefter said, the bill was drawn up specifically with the institutions for orphans and parentless children in mind.
The bodies that will be exercising oversight over the institutions accommodating parentless children are to be appointed by the council of the public chamber. There is to be a federal body in addition to the regional ones. As Mr Altshuler explained, if members of a local body or a local complainant have issues they will have an independent organisation to which they may turn.
Mr Golovan said not only NGOs but also human rights and children’s rights ombudsmen would be able to propose candidates for membership of the oversight bodies.
As well as members of these bodies, trusted educationalists, psychologists and lawyers and suchlike will be able to visit the residential institutions. Each regional body will be able to draw up its own list of such professionals.
Moscow 11 March
State finance essential for treatment of chronic hepatitis
Officials, doctors and representatives of NGOs have discussed the problems involved in the prevention of viral hepatitis at a round table entitled, Living with Hepatitis: the Right to Obtain Treatment’ held at the premises of the Rossiskaya Gazette newspaper. It was organised by the inter-regional communal organisation which supports patients with viral hepatitis called, Together Against Hepatitis.
Semen Boris, chair of the NGO’s board, thinks there is belief prevalent amongst members of the public that hepatitis is a disease affecting people who lead an antisocial way of life. In fact it can be contracted when receiving a blood transfusion or at the hairdresser’s. However, at the moment, treatment for viral hepatitis is not available for the average Russian. Treatment for hepatitis B costs in the region of $100-700 per month and for hepatitis C around $1,500. As only 5% of Russians have an income in the region of $2,000 per month, in all only 4% of the population can cover the cost of treatment for hepatitis B and only 1.5% the cost of treatment for chronic hepatitis C.
Over recent years the incidence of hepatitis B has remained practically the same at 15 cases per 100,000 people. It was nearly three times higher in the year 2,000. This noteworthy decrease is related mainly to the introduction of an effective vaccination programme according to the Federal Service for the Supervision of Human Rights and Welfare (FSSHRW). FSSHRW states that around 3 million people are infected with chronic viral hepatitis B.
The incidence of hepatitis C is around 40 cases per 100,000 although by no means all of the cases have been taken into account. FSSHRW states that around 4% of the population suffer from chronic hepatitis C and need urgent treatment. The high rate of infection results from the preventive arrangements being so poor. Examinations for the presence of the hepatitis virus are concentrated on pregnant women, hospital patients, medical workers, blood donors and so on. To this date no federal register of hepatitis patients has been compiled so that official statistics of the distribution of the disease are not available.
The head of the infectious diseases department of the ministry of health of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Nikiforov, said that since 2011 the ministry has not been allocating resources for treatment of viral hepatitis which is not included in the list of social diseases. He declared that it was necessary to restore financing for the treatment programmes.
The executive co-ordinator of the World Health Organisation(WHO) programmes, Elena Vovk said that WHO was issuing a programme for the treatment of chronic infections caused by hepatitis B. The programme has not as yet been approved in Russia. WHO estimates that 350 million people worldwide are infected with the hepatitis B virus, 25% of whom die prematurely from cirrhosis of the liver.