The Children of the North program remains a priority, notwithstanding a 75% decrease in the number of the federal targeted programs, said Valery Kirpichnikov, first deputy minister of Federation affairs and national and migration policy. He spoke at an all-Russian conference to sum up progress in the implementation of the program in the period between 1998 and 2000 and to search for optimal solutions. Although funding of the program "has considerably improved in recent years," it has not been provided in full, said Kirpichnikov. At the same time, in such a difficult situation, programs have been implemented to develop a TV medical care nerwork and to fit out children's services centers. As a result of rehabilitation measures, children's illness rate in 27 regions of the North has fallen by 16.7 percent and the frequency of chronic diseases has been reduced 33.4 percent. Between 1998 and 2000, nineteen children's social facilities were built and renovated in 17 of the North's regions.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin would never fall to the level of personal insults, Kremlin official spokesman Dmitry Peskov said