‘Kyrgyz clinics’ in Moscow: why do migrants seek to be treated by migrant doctors?

A study by Ekaterina Demintseva and Daniel Kashnitsky has discovered the reasons of “Kyrgyz clinics” appeal among migrants in Russia.

When migrants seek medical care, they usually choose a clinic and a doctor based on friends’ and acquaintances’ recommendations. This is the rationale and the impetus for the emergence and success of the so-called ‘Kyrgyz clinics’ in Moscow, Russia.  

‘Kyrgyz clinics’ are private medical organizations officially registered in Russia. This is not a term fixed in any official document, but it is widely used in spoken language by migrants, patients as well as doctors.

Managers of such clinics are Russian citizens, mostly of Kyrgyz origin. Doctors are licensed specialists of Kyrgyz ethnicity, and they may be citizens of Russia or not.

For several years, these clinics have been an important part of the migrant infrastructure in Moscow. They are being promoted through migrant-specific channels: dedicated webpages, social media, newspapers, or just by word of mouth among clients.   

The appeal of Kyrgyz clinics is based on several factors. Firstly, average prices in such clinics are usually lower than cost of similar services in other commercial clinics.

Secondly, an important factor in these clinics’ success is understanding of the traditions, and religious beliefs of patients by the doctors, who are professional migrants from Central Asian countries, for example, they understand that for many migrants from Muslim countries it is important that the patient and the doctor should be of the same gender (for example, only a woman can be a gynecologist). It is important for migrants that a clinic expects people like them, that their cultural specifics are being understood and shared.

Thirdly, as for the doctors, these clinics are a part of their own migration history. The principle of equality works well here: migrant patients come to migrant doctors.

But the main reason of these medical centers’ popularity lays in the fact that their personnel understand the socioeconomic situation of labor migrants and the issues they encounter in the country.

It is important to highlight the migration-related component of these medical centers’ activities. Doctors in Kyrgyz clinics work not just with their compatriots, but specifically with migrants; they remember that any treatment strategy should take into account all existing troubles and limited resources.

As a separate matter, Kyrgyz clinics play an important role in the life of qualified professionals, doctors who are citizens of Kyrgyzstan and often cannot find a job in Russia due to their citizenship or ethnicity. For these individuals, such clinics represent a structure where they can work as specialists regardless existing barriers. For young foreign specialists who are studying in Moscow or already have a diploma of a Russian university, these clinics might become an entry point, an opportunity to start a medical career in Russia.

Thus, Kyrgyz clinics are a part of the migrant infrastructure, and at the same time, they are a genuine component of Russian and transnational healthcare systems.

Dmitriy Korenev

Based on: Ekaterina Demintseva, Daniel Kashnitsky. The role of the so-called Kyrgyz clinics in the life of migrants from Middle Asia in Moscow // Living in two worlds: rethinking transnationalism and translocality / Collection of articles under the editorship of O. Brednikova and S. Abashin. — Moscow: Novoye Literaturnoye Obozreniye, 2020. Pp. 338-373 (Екатерина Деминцева, Даниил Кашницкий, Лечиться у «своих», лечить «своих». Роль «киргизских клиник» в жизни среднеазиатских мигрантов в Москве // Жить в двух мирах»: переосмысляя транснационализм и транслокальность / Сборник статей; под ред. О. Бредниковой и С. Абашина. — М.: Новое литературное обозрение, 2020. С. 338 — 373)

This article was prepared with the support of Oxfam in the Russian Federation