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Pre-Pandemic, Most Russians Unhappy With Healthcare

Pre-Pandemic, Most Russians Unhappy With Healthcare

by Zach Bikus and Neli Esipova

Story Highlights

  • 34% of Ukrainians, 37% of Russians satisfied with the availability of quality healthcare in their local area
  • Just over half of Russians (54%) were confident in the hospitals in their country in 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Even as the number of COVID-19 cases in Russia stabilize and hard-hit Moscow eased its lockdown on Monday, the pandemic has laid bare problems with the country's healthcare system that Russians have been aware of for years.

Before the pandemic, just 37% of Russians reported being satisfied with the availability of quality healthcare where they live. The trend in Russia has been flat over the past five years, staying on par with the 38% reported in 2014.


Line graph. Since 2005, when Gallup started asking people worldwide about their satisfaction with the availability of quality healthcare where they live, satisfaction in Russia has lagged behind the rest of the world.

While not facing the same staggering number of COVID-19 cases, Ukraine remains in a difficult position in their capacity to deal with the epidemic. Just 34% of Ukrainians are satisfied with the availability of healthcare in their area, essentially tying with Russia for the lowest rating across post-Soviet Eurasia. President Volodymyr Zelensky remarked recently that the healthcare system is "a step short of a coma."

These dour attitudes in Russia and Ukraine extend to people's perceptions about medical facilities within their countries as well. A 2018 study by the Wellcome Global Monitor found that little more than half of Russians (54%) and a similar 55% of Ukrainians expressed confidence in the hospitals and health clinics in their country. These ratings are well below the 76% average for people worldwide.

Wide Range in Healthcare Satisfaction Across the Former Soviet Union

The low satisfaction among Russians and Ukrainians is remarkable, even in a region where satisfaction with the availability of quality healthcare is already lower than the global average. Less than half of those (45%) living in the region express satisfaction with the availability of quality healthcare in their local area, compared with 65% globally.

Russia and Ukraine Are Least Satisfied With the Availability of Healthcare
% Satisfied
2017 2018 2019
% % %
Tajikistan 80 84 84
Uzbekistan 83 79 79
Kyrgyzstan 66 68 65
Kazakhstan 56 49 57
Georgia 53 51 54
Azerbaijan 38 47 52
Moldova 36 54 50
Belarus 42 40 45
Armenia 42 35 42
Russia 35 34 37
Ukraine 24 33 34
In the city or area where you live, are you satisfied or dissatisfied with _______? The availability of quality healthcare
Gallup World Poll 2019

Within the region, the countries with the lowest reported satisfaction, Armenia, Russia and Ukraine, all spend less on healthcare as a percentage of total government expenditures compared with the global average. Armenia, for example, spent just 7% of government expenditures on health-related expenses in 2014 compared with a global average of 11.8%, according to the World Health Organization. Although closer than Armenia, Ukraine and Russia both fell below the global average in government healthcare expenditures.

Diminished Trust in Authorities Remains a Problem Across the Region

Apart from the current conditions of healthcare facilities, residents in the region are divided on their level of trust for medical and health advice coming from the government in their countries. While three-quarters (76%) of residents globally express a lot or some trust in their government regarding health matters, the percentage falls to 60% in post-Soviet Eurasia. Trust varies widely across the region, ranging from near-universal faith in the authorities in Uzbekistan (97%) to just a third (33%) of residents in Ukraine.

Many Still Lacking Trust in Government on Medical Advice
A lot/Some Not much/Not at all
% %
Uzbekistan 97 1
Turkmenistan 91 6
Tajikistan 89 8
Kyrgyzstan 85 10
Azerbaijan 81 13
Kazakhstan 72 15
Georgia 68 27
Armenia 64 29
Belarus 57 27
Russia 55 29
Moldova 48 46
Ukraine 33 53
In general, how much do you trust medical and health advice that the government of _____ gives? A lot, some, not much, or not at all? If you don't know, please just say so.
Wellcome Global Monitor 2018

Even if a vaccine or treatment can be found, the region suffers from a wide gap in perceptions on the efficacy of these solutions. Slightly more than six in 10 residents in the region strongly agree or agree that vaccines are effective, compared with 84% of residents worldwide. In some countries, including Moldova and Belarus, less than half of the population believes that vaccines are an effective form of treatment.


With many experts seeing a coronavirus vaccine months or years away, healthcare systems will continue facing constant pressure for the foreseeable future. Although some trends in Russia appeared optimistic, the staggering caseload will challenge the already-overloaded healthcare system. Given the gloomy outlook facing the region, antiquated medical facilities and supplies will be pushed to their limits as governments struggle to bolster underfunded systems to meet the demands of the crisis.

For complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

Learn more about how the Gallup World Poll works.

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