Medicine: The State of Soviet Medicine

Western visitors have brought back conflicting reports about the quality of Russian medicine. Some have praised it; others have been appalled, often after traumatic personal experiences. Jerrold Schecter, chief of TIME'S Moscow Bureau, has observed the system more closely than most. At various times, his wife and five children have all been patients in Soviet hospitals or polyclinics. Schecter offers this appraisal:

EVEN before the comprehensive health code that went into effect last July, every Soviet citizen was entitled to "free and highly qualified medical assistance"—including compulsory treatment for mental illness, venereal disease,...