Red Medicine: Socialized Health in Soviet Russia


WHEN A RUSSIAN becomes ill the Government does something about it. In fact, the Government has already done something about it, for Soviet Russia has decided that the health of the individual is the concern of society as a whole. Indeed, the Soviet Union is the one nation in the world which has undertaken to set up and operate a complete organization designed to provide preventive and curative medical care for every man, woman, and child within its borders.

This vast and fascinating experiment in socialized health may not turn out as well as its originators expected, or it may turn out better. In any case it is an experiment that the rest of the world cannot afford to ignore.

In this book we present an outline of medical organization and administration in Soviet Russia, together with selected illustrative detail from the information which we assembled during our tour of that country. While we have not found any other book which covers this field in a comprehensive manner, we have been greatly helped by reading scores of books dealing with Russia in general, or with particular subjects having some connection with our own, and we have enjoyed personal conferences with a number of their authors. Of the many persons who have given us invaluable aid, a few must be named here.

Among those who have long known Russia and with whom we had stimulating conversations, Walter Duranty, Moscow correspondent of The New York Times, was especially helpful. Our receion in Russia was all the more friendly because of introductions which we carried from Senator William E. Borah and Lord Passfield (Sidney Webb). Mr. K. A. Umansky of the Foreign Office of the Soviet Union, and Dr. M. F. Vladimirsky, the Commissar of Health of the Russian Socialist Federated Republic, were prom and generous in facilitating our tour and in helping us to get the information we sought. Many other Russian leaders who are mentioned in our text rendered valuable assistance for which we are grateful. For supplementary information given us while he was in the United States on leave we are indebted to Dr. Alexandre Roubakine, of Moscow University. For assistance regarding political and economic questions we are grateful to Victor A. Yakhontoff, Major-General in the Imperial Russian Army, a member of the Kerensky Cabinet, and an historian of the Revolution; to Miss Mary Van Kleeck, Director of the Department of Industrial Studies of the Russell Sage Foundation, both of whom read the book in manuscri; and to Sidney Webb, who also read some of our chaers and made highly valuable suggestions. We are indebted to Victor O. Freeburg, of the staff of the Milbank Memorial Fund, for editorial assistance and for seeing the book through the press.

In spite of the care taken, we cannot hope that what we have written on a complicated subject involved with rapidly changing conditions will be free from error, and in this matter we crave the readers' indulgence.

We appreciate deeply the generous aid of the Milbank Memorial Fund in enabling us to pursue this study.

It may be added that we plead no cause; our only aim is to give a faithful account of what we have seen.

October 1, 1933