Russische Föderation: Valentina Merkulova

Our children's health defines the physical and moral potential of our country; it is the sign of a strong state. My endless joy is contributing to children's health and happiness.

— Valentina Merkulova

Valentina Merkulova is an economist and a top-notch professional in the field of resort management and rehabilitation of children. She has received a number of awards for her excellence in this domain. Since 1999 she has headed the Association of Sanatoria and Resorts “Kurorty Moskovskoy oblasti”. As a reputed specialist, she conducts an active dialogue with the government and the State Duma on issues of children’s health care. Since 2001 Valentina has been participating in a national program aimed at the medical and social rehabilitation of handicapped children.

Valentina Merkulova has been working for many years in sanatoria specialized in rendering medical and psychological assistance to handicapped children. Time and again she has witnessed definite improvement in gravely ill children that have been provided with medical and rehabilitation therapy. Valentina remembers a case in which a child who had not uttered a word in three years because of a major psychological trauma, started speaking again thanks to the doctors' therapy. She remembers the child’s grateful eyes and the happiness of the mother. From her professional experience as a resort manager, it had always been clear to Valentina that the lack of government support and appropriate legislation were impeding the effectiveness of the rehab system. She therefore set herself the goal of ensuring that there would be an adequate legal basis in place to protect the right of handicapped children to sanatorium treatment. She addressed various governmental and legislative bodies, and spoke to influential people vested with power. The first to respond was the government of Moscow. The personal support of the Mayor of Moscow made it possible to secure financing for the “Program of Handicapped Children’s Rehabilitation.” This initiative was subsequently supported by the authorities in many other regions across Russia. Her constant dialogue with State Duma committees and the Russian government finally yielded its fruits. The Federal Law on Children’s Rights was adopted. Furthermore, amendments to federal legislation now guarantee the funding of sanatorium therapy for handicapped children. Despite this success, Valentina has not abandoned the cause of children's health care. Her short-term plans are now to include orphans into the program of sanatorium treatment and provide them with an effective and financially backed program of social rehabilitation.

Kurorty Moskovskoy oblasti Moscow International Business Association (Miba) Rossiyskaya Akadiemiya Biznesa i Priedprinimatelstva (Rabp)