DOI: 10.17720/2409-5834.v3.3.2016.26z

M.N. Kozovenko
I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University, the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation

In medical history literature, including educational literature, one can find opposing views on the world’s first ministry of health: some authors believe that this was the Main Directorate for State Health Care (MDSHC, 1916-1917), while others consider it to be the People’s Commissariat for Health Care of the RSFSR (PCHC, 1918).
The author of this article, having studied literature sources relating to the history of the MDSHC in 1910–1917, found that the documented MDSHC establishment in September 1916 was of a temporary nature and did not lead to the formation of a new government agency able to perform the functions required of it. This is evidenced, in particular, by the MDSHC central apparatus’ low staffing levels, the maximum level of which did not exceed 16 percent, and the ineffective implementation of several legal bills in a situation of political confrontation with the majority of the deputies of the State Duma. In addition, the MDSHC’s management could not proceed with the creation of local organs for public health care. Thus, during the period of the MDSHC’s existence (September 1916 to February 1917), its central office was in the process of partial formation, and the available powers and resources did not meet what was required. The article’s author suggests that the documented MDSHC establishment in 1916–1917 did not achieve its goals, and its partially formed central office, apparently, should not be considered as a prototype of the world’s first ministry of health.
The author notes the outstanding contribution of the Imperial Military Medical Academy academic G.E. Rein, professor of obstetrics and women’s diseases, chairman of the Medical Council of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, member of the State Council of the Russian empire in the theoretical foundation of the principles for the first activities of the world’s first ministry of health in 1910–1917, the main provisions of which were needed in the formation of the PCHC in 1918.

Keywords: the world’s first ministry of health, G.E. Rein, the Main Directorate for State Health Care

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