Medicine. Getting treatment in the city, locating a dentist’s and a drugstore
Diagnostics and treatment
If the company you work for in Belarus provides you with health insurance (which is almost always the case), then all health-related issues are solved simply: you call the insurance company, outline the issue, they pick the right specialist and get you an appointment. There is a possibility of the insurance not covering all types of diagnosis and treatment, in which case you will need to seek medical care yourself in local public clinics/hospitals or private medical centers. It may happen that you will have to undergo a medical examination.
This institution is worth referring to if the health problem is minor or you cannot figure out its cause. People also come here to get prescriptions for drugs. Each district polyclinic has a GP to collect history, prescribe examinations and refer to narrow healthcare professionals. The availability of the latter differs from one polyclinic to another: for example, one place may lack an endocrinologist, another—a surgeon. State polyclinics have two features that can ‘traumatize’ the blissfully unaware. Long lines: you will most likely have to wait, even if the appointment is scheduled for a specific time slot. ‘Conveyor’ system: a GP and a narrow specialist are given an average of 7–15 minutes to see one patient.
You can pick a clinic and the required exams, as well as navigate the prices charged by different institutions at KlinikBel, a medical services information portal.
We hope that you would never need the information below, but you should know that Minsk features several major healthcare institutions that diagnose and treat cancer. The main one is the N.Alexandrov National Cancer Center (its official name is the Republican Scientific and Practical Center for Oncology and Medical Radiology), popularly known as “Borovlyany.”
Among them, Nordin and LODE enjoy a good reputation. There are also two medical lab chains, Synevo and Invitro, with branches even in ‘bedroom’ neighborhoods, offering all kinds of tests: from total protein to tumor markers.
Private clinics charge 1.5–2x, at times even 3x the service fees of the state-run ones. However, this buys you guaranteed time savings—and most likely, also decent service quality.
If you have a residence permit, state medical institutions will treat you for free. However, this does not apply to citizens of Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine—they still have to pay for routine care. Russian citizens holding a Belarusian residence permit receive both ER and routine medical care for free.
Citizens of Russia with no residence permit but with a Belarusian employment contract have the same rights to treatment at state institutions as their Belarusian colleagues. Citizens of the CIS Member States (except Georgia and Azerbaijan) working in Belarus under an employment contract are entitled to treatment at the employer’s expense according to the contractually stipulated manner/amounts.
Both state-run and private dental clinics operate in Minsk. The prior charge lower fees, but you may want to go there strictly at your friends’ recommendation—to a specific place and doctor, otherwise you risk ending up at an office with outdated equipment. <mark>Prices and doctors certainly vary among private institutions, too</mark>. Try finding your doctor here: <mark>private clinics</mark>: Dental Department at Ecomedservice, White Rhino, MedExpert Plus, <mark>public clinics</mark>: 9th Dental Polyclinic, dentistry unit at the Minsk Tractor Works (MTZ) medical center.
If the <mark>toothache hit during the night and you just can’t endure until morning</mark>, you can get help at one of the round-the-clock care offices: 3rd City Dental Polyclinic (5 Kiselev Str.) accepts patients with acute pain; 11th City Clinical Hospital (4 Korzhenevsky Str.) accepts only especially severe cases—like those in need of setting the jaw, stitching up a wound or opening an abscess; 4th City Pediatric Clinical Hospital (24 Shishkin Str.) admits only especially severe cases of children requiring hospitalization.
Belarusian drugstores sell most basic medicines (painkillers, antidiarrhetics, anti-migraine, sedatives, medicines for sore throat, cough and runny nose) without a prescription. The strictly ‘prescription only’ categories include antibiotics (except amoxicillin, ampicillin and doxycycline), combined oral contraceptives (with the exception of “Postinor” for emergency contraception).
You can check the availability of the needed pharmaceutical, find out its price and ensure it is sold as OTC (over-the-counter) on the tabletka.by website. Keep in mind, however: sometimes updating the range and prices in pharmacies is sluggish, and if you are all set to grab the last package of a rare drug, better call the drugstore to ensure no one has beaten you to it. The pharmacist is quite likely to agree and reserve it for you.
The range of drugs offered by all Minsk drugstores is roughly the same. But there are chains selling products unavailable elsewhere. For instance, Zelenaya Apteka sells analogues (mainly Russian- and Ukrainian-made) of products from iHerb.
Almost 50 of the capital’s drugstores are open 24/7. Find the one nearest to your home here.
Emergency Rescue (Ambulance)
One can also send a text to short number 9191, or write to this same number in WhatsApp or Viber. This method was actually invented for the deaf and dumb; however, if you speak no Russian and are unsure you can correctly read the translation made through Google, it will also do. The ambulance dispatcher will most likely speak only Russian.
Ambulance in Belarus goes to patients for reasons typical for such services: extensive burns or deep wounds, allergic reaction, asthma attack, heart attack, acute pain, high fever.
Incoming requests are divided into three categories of urgency:
- emergency, waiting time 5–15 minutes (all related to accidents: fires, falling from a height, drowning, electrocution etc., as well as convulsions, loss of consciousness);
- urgent, waiting time 15–30 minutes (arrhythmia, cardiac or asthmatic attack, childbirth, bleeding etc.);
- emergency calls, waiting time up to 1 hour (states with no apparent life-threatening signs: acute pain, fever, food poisoning etc.).
If you have insurance, the ER service is free of charge. Otherwise you will have to pay for hospitalization and care according to the price list for foreigners.
However, if you happen to fall into one of the following categories, you need no insurance to get free help:
- you are a citizen of a CIS member state (Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Russia);
- a citizen of Turkmenistan;
- you appealed for a refugee status or additional protection;
- you are transiting Belarus by train or plane.
There are several dozen sanatoria with mineral water and massage remaining in Belarus from the Soviet times, plus a few newly built ones.
Belarusians and foreigners go there for various reasons: some want to get a course of procedures, others use them as resorts for a relaxed holiday.