The first hospice in Russia was established in Lakhta (St Petersburg) in 1994, on the initiative of the British journalist Viktor Zorza, who invested great efforts in this project. The Hospice was run by Dr Andrei Gnezdilov. Later in 1994, Moscow Hospice No.1 was opened. Vera Millionshchikova took charge of the facility and ran it very successfully until she died in December 2010.
According to WHO statistics, 10-12 people (family, neighbours, friends and colleagues) experience stress caused by a loved one suffering from an incurable illness. Every year, cancer claims 23,000 lives in Moscow alone, meaning that about 250,000 (almost a quarter of a million!) people in just Moscow need hospice services during the year.
Currently, there are eight hospices in Moscow. These facilities cater for people in the fourth stage of cancer. Yet a much bigger group of people, including those in a coma, the disabled, those suffering from progressive incurable illnesses, as well as AIDS patients, are also in need of hospice services.
There are currently over 70 hospices in many Russian cities (Tula, Yaroslavl, Arkhangelsk, Ulyanovsk, Omsk, Kemerovo, Astrakhan, Perm, Petrozavodsk, Smolensk and others). International experience demonstrates that one hospice is enough for an area with a population of about 300,000-400,000 people, so Russia needs about 500 additional hospices (ignoring the different local conditions and population density in some regions).