NEARLY ALL RUSSIAN SCHOOLCHILDREN ARE ILL

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MOSCOW, April 6 (RIA Novosti's Olga Sobolevskaya) - Very few of the 25 million Russian schoolchildren are healthy, Olga Sharapova, Head of the Health and Social Development Ministry's Department of family, maternity and childhood medical and social problems, told journalists at the press conference at RIA Novosti.

Apart from working with schoolchildren - teaching them to take better care of their own health, and taking preventive medical measures, it is necessary to "change the ideological approach to children's health", she said.

When a teenager graduates from school, in many cases he or she already suffers from 2 or three maladies. Only 63 per cent of youths are fit for national service.

Every year 50 children younger than one year of age die in Russia, Ms. Sharapova pointed out. Infant mortality rate "is an integral index, showing both the healthcare situation and the level of social and economic development".

Every day women die from abnormal pregnancy, delivery or puerperal pathologies. This situation has to be changed, Ms. Sharapova emphasized. "The health of a woman's body is the key to the future of the nation, the people's future," she concluded. Maternal and children's health is among the priorities of Russian healthcare system, Ms. Sharapova pointed out on the eve of April 7 - the World Health Day. This year the Day's slogan is: "No mother, no child left behind".

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