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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gorbachev Opens New Cancer Clinic

Itar-TassBuilding of the 12-story Raisa Gorbacheva Center got under way in 2002.
ST. PETERSBURG -- A new hospital for cancer sufferers dedicated to the memory of Mikhail Gorbachev's late wife was opened by the former leader of the Soviet Union in St. Petersburg on Thursday.

"Families with children suffering from leukemia are in a particularly tough situation. This illness requires high professionalism and a lot of money," Gorbachev said at the opening ceremony.

Raisa Gorbacheva, who during her lifetime campaigned for child cancer treatments, died of leukemia eight years ago Thursday.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Gorbachev thanked everyone involved in raising money for the center, including donors from Germany and the United States.

Nikolai Yaitsky, head of the St. Petersburg Pavlov Medical University, said many families had long been waiting for the center.

"The patients' waiting list is already booked up for six months," Yaitsky said.

Gorbachev promised that his Gorbachev Fund will continue to lend its support to the center.

"Leukemia treatment is very expensive and most parents just cannot afford to pay for it themselves," he said.

Gorbachev said the center may also gather an international forum of hematologists to discuss the problems of blood-related diseases.

The 12-story Raisa Gorbachev Center is built over an area of 5,500 square meters and will treat leukemia sufferers from the Northwest Federal District.

The institute includes a polyclinic, hospital and transfusion department. The children's wards are located on four stories of the building and feature classrooms, a playroom and art-therapy facilities.

Construction of the institute began in 2002. In 2005, the state began to provide basic financing for the project.

Renowned pediatrician Leonid Roshal said the state needed to focus more on children's health.

"This center is only one drop of what is needed for Russian children but I wish there would be more like these all over the country," Roshal said, adding that Moscow's Children Cancer Center has been under construction for 20 years and is still not completed.