General information

The Russian health care system has seen major improvements in recent years, both in technologies and pharmaceuticals. Moscow hosts a number of Western medical clinics that can look after all of your family's health needs. The clinics are spread out over the city; therefore, regardless of your location, there is sure to be medical provision in the vicinity. 

When coming to Russia, bring a good supply of any prescription medicine needed. Ensure you can continue that supply from a local facility or that you can find a local substitute acceptable to your original prescribing physician. 

Early in your stay - when there is no emergency - identify the closest medical facility with English-speaking personnel. Ascertain its working hours and its reputation, if possible. If in Moscow for the first time, bring a copy of your medical records with you to assist your new doctor in becoming familiar with your past medical history. The approach to the provision of medical care as a service to both the population and the individual may be quite different to what you are used to.

 

 Unless absolutely necessary, as in major medical emergency, it is suggested that you do not go to the local hospital on your own without first contacting your medical assistance company; if you must, at least ensure you have a Russian speaker to assist you. Unsure that you have enough money to guarantee any admission fees that may be charged. 

Many medications can be purchased here over the counter that would only be available by prescription in your home country. However, in most cases the manufacture is different and, therefore, the drug is identified by a different brand name. Know the generic (chemical) name of your medicines if you think you are going to need to restock locally. Bring the package insert from your previous prescription with you. Fraudulent drugs are not a major problem in Russia, but be careful and check the dispensed drug before you pay for it. 

Some medications including controlled drugs and drugs of dependence (i.e., sedatives and hypnotics; medications to treat the hyperactivity disorders of children; strong pain relievers; and some drugs for diabetics and epileptics) are simply nor available in Russia. If you are on such a medication, please speak to your physician in your home country and a physician at one of the medical clinics in Moscow to find out how to best handle this situation.

In Case of Emergency

1. Prepare for Emergencies

Keep your insurance/assistance company card with you at all times. Make a personal emergency response plan, have it translated into Russian, and keep it in your car and your wallet/billfold. This plan should answer the questions: "What would I want people to do if they found me unconscious"

2. Call your insurance

Make a "check" call when you are not in trouble to ensure the phone number is valid and that you can reach someone who speaks your language. Check that they can do what you would want them to do in the event of an emergency. Do they have the necessary authority to act, and sufficient local personnel and infrastructure to act quickly?

3. Medical and evacuation insurance (required)

If you have medical and evacuation insurance - and it is recommended that you have both - be sure that the company will agree to evacuate you or repatriate you in the event of a serious medical emergency. Disregard the marketing brochures; fax them a scenario or two and ask them to tell you what they would do. If they will not agree to commit in writing, find a better provider.

4. In the event of an emergency

In the event of an emergency, speed up the response by volunteering the minimum required information logically and clearly
(1) Name and telephone number where you can be reached if the line is cut off
(2) Membership number of company affiliation
(3) Brief description of the medical problem and what kind of help you need
(4) Location of patient and location of passport (vital for overseas medical evacuation)

In certain circumstances, it may be required or recommended to go abroad for medical reasons. As in many other countries, one cannot leave Russian without proper travel documents. Therefore, have your travel documents up to date and accessible at all times. To obtain a special authorization to leave and enter countries without proper travel documents is a difficult and time-consuming process and success cannot be guaranteed. 

At all times know the status and whereabouts of your and your family's passports. Never allow your travel documents to be taken from you overnight or over the week unless you know you can retrieve in an emergency.

Embassies and Consulates

Your country's embassy or consulate can:
(1) Provide information on Russia's foreign-residency requirements
(2) Renew an expired passport or replace a lost or stolen one
(3) Report a birth in Russia to your home country
(4) Provide guidelines for getting married in Russia
(5) Help make arrangements in the case of a death
(6) Assist in voter registration and obtaining absentee ballots
(7) Register its citizens residing in Russia (so that they can be contacted in case of an emergency)
(8) Certify copies of documents in you home country's language

Permanently residing

Please remember that anyone temporarily or permanently residing in Russia is subject to Russian legislation. Any private or public disputes must be settled through the Russian legal system. Diplomatic or consular officials are not authorized to practice law or to act as an attorney or agents in private matters. They should, however, be able to provide you with contact details for attorneys who can represent you in court.

Important Phone Numbers

Fire fighters 101
Police 102
Ambulance 103
Emergency Gas Service 104
Intercity phone calls 107
Information 109
Time (automatic clock) 100
Emergency rescue service +7 (495) 937-9911 or 911
International SOS (The Moscow Clinic, 24 hour service to its clients)
American Medical Centers (24 hours service)
European Medical Center (French, British and American experts)

2. Call your insurance

Make a "check" call when you are not in trouble to ensure the phone number is valid and that you can reach someone who speaks your language. Check that they can do what you would want them to do in the event of an emergency. Do they have the necessary authority to act, and sufficient local personnel and infrastructure to act quickly?

International crisis Line

Tel: 8 926 1133373
This is a free English-speaking telephone counseling service for expatriates people in distress. Available 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
In case you ever have to call the fire fighters, the police, or an ambulance, make sure that all family members can correctly pronounce your complete address in Russian.
Post a piece of paper with your full address details and phone numbers in Russian and translation into your native language on the wall next to your phone.
Also make sure that your children know how to reach you or another adult you trust in case they get lost or have an emergency.
Note that in Russia there is difference between the police (militsiya) and the traffic police (GIBDD, formerly GAI). The police are not responsible for regulating traffic or handling car accidents, and the traffic police do not handle criminal offences that are unrelated to traffic.

4. In the event of an emergency

In the event of an emergency, speed up the response by volunteering the minimum required information logically and clearly
- Name and telephone number where you can be reached if the line is cut off
- Membership number of company affiliation
- Brief description of the medical problem and what kind of help you need
- Location of patient and location of passport (vital for overseas medical evacuation)

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