§ Mr. David Atkinson
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on her recent visit to Russia and Kazakhstan.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
There is much appreciation of the British health care system in both Russia and Kazakhstan. Both countries wish to take advantage of British know how in health care.
In Moscow I had lengthy and very encouraging discussions with Colonel General Nechaev, the new Health Minister, who is head of both the military and civil health systems. We signed the new health co-operation agreement which provides a sound basis for future co-operation. There was also great interest in the operation of the national health service in the United Kingdom and the recent health reforms. I have therefore invited Colonel General Nechaev to London to see the operation of the NHS at first hand.
Colonel General Nechaev accompanied me to Ekaterinburg in the Urals region of Sverdlovsk. This is the main centre of activity of the British Health Care Consortium which is offering the local government a complete health care package through an ingenious system of counter trade. The NHS, through NHS Overseas Enterprises, is also providing expert planning advice and training in health care management.
I was delighted to be able to announce the extension of the know-how fund into health care management and Ekaterinburg as one of the areas to receive help. The activities I saw underline the importance of this development.
In Almaty I had a 40-minute meeting with President Nazerbayev of Kazakhstan. The President is keen to put more substance into his country's relations with Britain and to see British industry involved in the health care sector. I had meetings with Mr. Devyatko, the Health Minister and signed a joint declaration on relations in the health care field. The consortium also signed a collaborative agreement with the Ministry of Health and Amersham International signed a protocol on vaccine production.