#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. The first expedition led by the chief physician of the Norilsk infectious diseases hospital, Georgy Popov, flew to the Taimyr village of Volochanka at the end of October 1957 and worked there until the end of the year. Together with Popov, the head of the hospital laboratory Igor Panshin, as well as the head physician of the dermatovenerologic dispensary Stanislav Tuminas and the chief radiologist of Norilsk, Pavel Vlasov, also examined the tundra people.
An X-ray technician from the local hospital was dispatched from Dudinka along with a portable X-ray machine. In Volochanka, a pediatrician from the district hospital joined the expedition. The doctors were equipped with a laboratory complex and a mobile power station. The time of the coming polar night was chosen to catch as many tundra people as possible on the spot.
Back in Norilsk, it was decided that the main attention would have to be paid to identifying tuberculosis in local residents. Also, doctors examined both children and adults for skin diseases, rickets, eye diseases.
According to the recollections of the laboratory doctor Igor Panshin, the local population was willing to go for examinations, they were especially attracted by the x-ray machine:
“A medical history was started for everyone, where all the results were recorded. It is interesting to note that, despite the primitive living conditions – a tent, clothes made of reindeer skins without underwear, lack of practice of washing the body – none of the surveyed had any skin or parasitic diseases”.
The results of that and the next expedition in 1959 were published in the 1966 collection of works by Norilsk doctors edited by the legendary surgeon Victor Kuznetsov. Both times Igor Panshin took over the responsibility of the photographer, who transferred part of the negatives to the photo-information bureau of the plant.
See other materials of our photo project in the History spot section.
Text: Varvara Sosnovskaya, Photo: Nornickel Polar Division archive