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147

(1923) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen - Tema: Russia
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SANITARY AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS 147
admirable in normal times, plunges the sanitary
organisations in the famine districts into terrible
difficulties, since the local funds are very small
and the strain particularly heavy. In co-operation
with the Russian and Ukrainian Red Cross and’
the Commissariat of Public Health, my organisa
tion has recently formed a committee for medicinal
and sanitary relief, which sends to Russia com
pletely equipped rnedicine chests, each sufficient
for one thousand invalids for three months, and also
a quantity of medical instruments. In this way
a double object is secured : immediate aid is
brought to quite a large number of sick people,
and in addition the doctors, who were condemned
to inactivity and despair through lack of equip
ment, are able to resume their activities, which are
so essential for the improvement of their country’s
hygiene. It is thus an attempt to save the medical
organisation and staff, whose destruction would
be fatal for Russia. i
Another social problem needing outside help
for its solution is unemployment.
It may be said that the majority of the Russian
peasants have always suffered under conditions
of a sort of chronic unemployment. In the course
of the long winter months only those who lived
near the large towns could really count on employ
ment, e.g., as cab-drivers. Only to a very small
extent could the peasant home-industries ameliorate
their position.
This long annual idleness of the Russian
peasants is possibly one of the chief reasons why

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