If you were a baby waiting to be born and could choose the country into which you would arrive in this world, then the best place to tell your mum to go is Belarus. A quirk of Belarus' failure to reform is that Minsk is a great place to be a baby or an OAP, but rubbish for everyone else.
That's the conclusion of an international ranking of 160 countries by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The survey found the natal facilities and post-natal health record of Belarus makes it the most desirable country to be for would-be parents and 33rd best in the world.
"The state support to families with children played a significant positive role in improving the country's demographic situation. In recent years the natural population loss has been reducing. The crude birth rate was 12.2 births per 1,000 people; the crude death rate was 13.3 deaths per 1,000 people in 2012. For the first time the child population increased by 21,000 last year," said the chief pediatrician of the Healthcare Ministry of Belarus, Yelena Nevero, reports BelTA.
Ironically, it is Belarus' very authoritarianism that is responsible for its good performance. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the social systems in most of the republics also collapsed. But not so in Belarus, which avoided the worst by clamping down and largely maintaining the old system: even the secret service in Minsk is still called the KGB. Since then, most of the 15 former vassal states have recovered, but social services for babies and pensioners remain subpar. The situation is exactly the opposite in Belarus, which remains mired in its command economy habits, but all the cradle-to-grave services offered by the Soviet system are still there and functioning.
Belarus enjoyed one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the CIS in 2012 of 3.4 deaths per 1,000 live births, vs Russia's 8.7 deaths per 1,000 live births. The child mortality rate (under 5 years) was also one of the lowest in the region at 4.4 deaths per 1,000 live births, BelTA reports. "This is the result of stable financing of the childbirth services, constant improvement of qualifications of the healthcare personnel, enhancing the affordability of all kinds of healthcare services," Nevero said, adding that 98% of women in Belarus has access to post-natal care.
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