MOSCOW, December 9 (RIA Novosti) – Russia, facing a demographic crisis for about two decades, is spending $1.5 billion to build 32 maternity care centers across dozens of regions “in dire need of support,” Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Monday.
The centers, to feature advanced facilities for caring for high-risk newborns, will be constructed in 30 regions by 2016, Medvedev said at a meeting in his residence in Gorki, outside Moscow.
The country has been dealing with ebbing demographics, including through brain drain and lower birth rates, since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Russia’s population in 2009 grew for the first time in 15 years.
The government has been providing $330 a month to mothers with three or more kids since last year, more than double the previous payout, in an effort to boost birth rates.
Medvedev expressed hope that the payouts would continue beyond 2016, when the program is slated to expire.
The government is also determined to reduce the infant mortality rate from last year’s 8.7 per thousand births to 7.8 per thousand births by 2016.