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The Public Health in Russia During the Last 100 Years (1897-1997)

Prokhorov B.B.



The public health depends on social, economical and political processes that happen in the society and simultaneously serves as an indicator of these processes.

The Russian population increased in 2,2 times during last 100 years. And this number would be much larger, as thought by demographers, if all the scourges that were happening in Russia in 20th century had passed by.

During last 100 years the Russian population grew significantly older. The proportion of children and teenagers among males decreased in 1,7 times and among females in 1,9 times in 1997 comparing to similar figures in 1897.

In the beginning of 20th century very few physicians were present in Russia just 2 for 10 thousands of people. The mortality was very high. The highest mortality was in the years of bad harvest. Thus, during three bad harvest years (1872, 1882, 1892) more than 1 million people died from hunger and epidemics. 2,35 million of peoples died in 50 regions of Russia from 1891 to 1914 from diseases. The infant mortality was high as well. In the 1862 the average life expectancy of Russian orthodox population was 30,87 years for males and 32,45 for females and for both sexes the average figure was 31,6 years.

During 19141920 the country suffered from great population losses. The Russia lost about 6 mln people during WW I. At the same time, the country was suffering from epidemics such as Spanish flew, tuberculosis, camp-fever, intestinal disorders including typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery and smallpox. The epidemics of acute infectious diseases started during WW I and was observed in the following years.

Significant military losses and sudden deterioration of life conditions of the civic population, especially during civil war, led to high mortality rates. The death rates in European part of the USSR (excluding northern Caucasus and Ural) reached its highest figure in 1919 46,7 deaths per 1000 people. It started to decrease during the following years: 29,7 deaths in 1921 and 25,5 deaths in 1923. The infant mortality during 19181924 was 250190 deaths per 1 000 children at the age less than 1 year, and in 1925 the mortality was 201,0 deaths per 1 000. In 1920 the life expectancy in St. Petersburg was 20,5 for males and 26,3 for females, i.e. it decreased for males in 10,5 and in 12 years for females comparing to period from 1910 to 1911.

During the short period of NEP (new economic policy) (19231927) the mortality started to decrease fast and life expectancy increased in 5 years.

During the last year of NEP (1928) the highest life expectancy for males (35,9 years) and relatively high for females (40,4 years) was observed. These figures were valid till 1940. Further events in political and economical life of the country led to decrease in life expectancy and increase in infant mortality.

The great famine of 1932 in the south of Russia and Ukraine led to mass mortality, especially infant mortality. The infant mortality was 295 deaths per 1000 children less than 1 year. The average life expectancy decreased in 2 times comparing to 1930 and was only 15,2 years for males and 19,5 years for females. The Russia lost 2,4 million people only during 1933.

The famine was accompanied with increase in infectious diseases, mortality from lung diseases, rickets, colitis, enteritis and dyspepsia.

After the end of famine the life expectancy started to rise gradually. The next decrease in life expectancy was during 19361938, i.e. during the years of mass purges. Before the WWII life expectancy for males was 35,7 years and 41,9 for females. The lag in life expectancy in Russia in 1940 was 2025 years behind that observed in developed countries.

According to demographic estimations on January 1 1941, the Russian population was 111 million people. During the war the population decreased in 13,6 million, i.e. 12,3 % of population comparing to the beginning of 1941, considering births and continued migrations. The number of males born during 18951926 decreased most of all. As a result, the differences in sexes was 1339 females per 1000 males. The greatest difference for sexes was at the ages 2049 years: in 1946 1000 males opposed the 1614 females. At the same time, the appearance of sulfamid medicine and antibiotics contributed to decrease in infant mortality during 19401946 in 1,75 times. The life expectancy in 1946 was higher in 10,9 years for males and 13,4 years for females than that observed in during 1940, which was the result of decrease in infant mortality.

After the end of war during 19481954 the life expectancy increases almost in 9 years for males and in 8 years for females.

The Russia was gradually becoming a country with predominance of urban inhabitants. In the 1950 the urban population was 43%. During 9 years (from 1955 to 1964) the life expectancy for males in Russia increased in 6,3 years and in



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