MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:
Medical care in most localities is below Western standards;
shortages of medical supplies, differing practice standards,
variable specialty training opportunities and the lack of
comprehensive primary care all combine to make the medical
system difficult to negotiate as well as suspect. The few
"quality" facilities in Moscow and St. Petersburg
that approach acceptable standards do not necessarily accept
all cases (i.e., they may not be licensed to treat trauma,
infectious disease or maternity cases). Access to these
facilities usually requires cash or credit card payment
at western rates upon admission.
Elderly travelers and those with existing health problems
may be at particular risk. Elective surgery requiring blood
transfusions and non-essential blood transfusions are not
recommended, due to uncertainties surrounding the local
blood supply. Most hospitals and clinics in major urban
areas have adopted the use of disposable syringes as standard
practice; however, travelers to remote regions should bring
a supply of sterile, disposable syringes and corresponding
IV supplies for eventualities. Travelers should refrain
from visiting tattoo parlors or piercing services due to
the risk of infection.
Outbreaks of diphtheria have been reported throughout the
country, even in large cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend
up-to-date diphtheria immunizations before traveling to
Russia and neighboring countries. Typhoid can be a concern
for those who plan to travel extensively in the region.
Cases of cholera have also been reported throughout the
area. Drinking bottled water can reduce the risk of exposure
to cholera and other infectious and noxious agents. Tap
water in Russia, outside of Moscow, is generally considered
unsafe to drink. Travelers are strongly urged to use bottled
water for drinking and food preparation.
Rates of HIV infection have risen markedly in recent years.
While most prevalent among intravenous drug users, prostitutes,
and their clients, the HIV/AIDS rate in the general population
is increasing. Reported cases of syphilis are much higher
than in the U.S., and some sources suggest that gonorrhea
and chlamydia are also more prevalent than in Western Europe
or the U.S. Travelers should be aware of the related health
and legal risks and take all appropriate measures.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions,
such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite
protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers
at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet
site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel.
For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad
consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at
Further health information for travelers is available at