Doctor’s Oath of the Soviet Union (1971 Amended 1983)

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The Oath itself, although already existing in a number of different versions and in a an informal sense since the earliest days of the Russian Revolution, was not standardised throughout the USSR until March 26th, 1971, where its basic text was Approved by Decree of the Presidium Supreme Soviet of the USSR.  Amendments and additions introduced by the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR from 15.11.1983 onwards – the most notable being clause 7 dealing with the prevention of nuclear war. All those graduating as ‘Doctors’ from higher medical schools and the medical faculties of universities, were subject to this Oath as of June 1st, 1971. The Russian language text (from which the original language Oath is drawn) states that the motivation for this document resides in ‘Article 13 of the Fundamentals Legislation of the USSR (and the Union of Republics) regarding health provision for the citizens of the Soviet Union (статьей 13 Основ законодательства Союза ССР и союзных республик о здравоохранении приносят граждане СССР). However, having accessed the Fundamental (Constitutional) Law of the USSR (1977), I have discovered that Article 13 does not mention health, but rather deals with the principle of how earned income serves as the basis of personal property ownership within the USSR, and that the Soviet State shall provide (free of charge) a small plot of land to be used productively by each Soviet Citizen. Renting-out free land (or dwellings built upon it) is strictly forbidden. It is in Article 24 where the principle of building a comprehensive healthcare system is first mentioned, and Article 42 where it is clarified that all healthcare in the USSR is to be provided free at the point of use to every Soviet Citizen and every foreigner, refugee or asylum seeker resident within the USSR. In Article 42 states in full:

Citizens of the USSR have the right to health protection. This right is provided free of charge by professionally qualified medical personnel trained within public health institutions; administered to the people through an expansive network of medical institutions, for the treatment and strengthening of the health of Soviet Citizens; the development and improvement of safety and industrial sanitation; whilst carrying out wide preventive measures; measures for improving the environment; special care for the health of the young and the developing next generation, including the prohibition of child labour not associated with training, and labour education; the development of scientific research aimed at preventing and reducing morbidity, and every measure to ensure a long active life of all Soviet Citizens.

I can only assume that the Russian language paper quoting Article 13 is either in error, or that my research is lacking, but having examined the Soviet Constitutions of 1918, 1924, 1936 and 1977, I cannot locate an  ‘Article 13’ that deals with health. The point of this research, however, is to provide written evidence from the Soviet Legal Code, which clearly states that the providing of a comprehensive ‘free’ healthcare system lay at the heart of the Soviet System.

Having been entrusted with the high office of physician, and having entering medical practice, I do solemnly swear:

To dedicate all my knowledge and strength to the preservation and improvement of the health of Humanity, the treatment and prevention of disease, and to work in good conscience wherever it is required by society;

To always be ready to provide medical care, to care for the patient carefully and attentively, and to observe the highest standards of medical confidentiality;

To constantly perfect my medical knowledge and clinical skill and thereby (through my work) aid in the development and progression of medical science and practice;

To seek-out, if the patient’s better interests warrant it, advice from my fellow physicians, and never (myself) to refuse to give such advice or help;

To preserve and develop the noble traditions of Soviet medicine, to be guided in all my actions by the principles of Communist morality, and to always bear in mind the high calling of a Soviet physician and my responsibility to the people and to the Soviet State.

To remain forever conscious of the danger posed by nuclear weapons to humanity, to tirelessly fight for peace and for the prevention of nuclear war.

I swear loyalty to this oath as long as I live.

Присяга врача Советского Союза

Получая высокое звание врача и приступая к врачебной деятельности, я торжественно клянусь:

все знания и силы посвятить охране и улучшению здоровья человека, лечению и предупреждению заболеваний, добросовестно трудиться там, где этого требуют интересы общества;

быть всегда готовым оказать медицинскую помощь, внимательно и заботливо относиться к больному, хранить врачебную тайну;

постоянно совершенствовать свои медицинские познания и врачебное мастерство, способствовать своим трудом развитию медицинской науки и практики;

обращаться, если этого требуют интересы больного, за советом к товарищам по профессии и самому никогда не отказывать им в совете и помощи;

беречь и развивать благородные традиции отечественной медицины, во всех своих действиях руководствоваться принципами коммунистической морали, всегда помнить о высоком призвании советского врача, об ответственности перед Народом и Советским государством.

сознавая опасность, которую представляет собой ядерное оружие для человечества, неустанно бороться за мир, за предотвращение ядерной войны.

Верность этой присяге клянусь пронести через всю свою жизнь.

Russia Language References:

http://бмэ.орг/index.php/ПРИСЯГА_ВРАЧА_СОВЕТСКОГО_СОЮЗА

http://www.hist.msu.ru/ER/Etext/cnst1977.htm

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