In a discussion with Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, Putin said that in addition to cutting smoking, "We just should drink less alcohol. This will improve dramatically the health of the nation, it goes without saying."
He praised WHO's "recommendations on the propaganda of the healthy lifestyle" and pledged Russia's cooperation in this venture, Itar-Tass reported. He also saluted WHO's efforts to combat infectious diseases, "particularly your struggle with 'the bird flu' and the flu virus H1N1."
Putin assured the WHO chief that Russia does not intend to cut healthcare expenses.
"Despite the world financial and economic crisis we increase healthcare expenditures this year," he said. "The overall mortality rate reduced by 9 percent, the infant mortality rate went down by 22.7 percent and the birth rate increased by 18.7 percent."