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LES ECHOS

On The Road (And Brink) With French Country Doctors

A close-up look the problem of so-called “medical desertification” in rural France, where doctors are stretched to the limit and patients worry not to get sick on the wrong day of the week.

A small-town pharmacy in Brittany
A small-town pharmacy in Brittany
Laetitia Clavreul

SAINT-URCIZE - "In rural areas, it's better to be a cow than a man." This was back in February 2009, during a French Parliament debate on the Hospital, Patients, Health and Territories bill, and Pierre Morel-A-L'Huissier was being provocative. "But nothing has changed since regarding medical deserts," the Parliament member from the ruling center-right UMP party says now. "Funding grants, medical housing… regions, counties: everyone is trying to find solutions, so there's no coordination and not enough money."

But besides his role in Parliament, Morel-A-L'Huissier is also the mayor of Fournels, a small town in central France. His goal here is to create a "socio-medical" center, which unlike a traditional health facility can be certified with only one doctor rather than the minimum of two. "I keep being asked if the local doctor is going to stay," he says.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Hide-And-Seek Of Drone Warfare, A Letter From Ukraine's Front Line

A member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces writes his account of the new dynamic of targeting, and being targeted by, the invading Russian troops, as drones circle above and trenches get left behind.

A Ukrainian military drone operator during a testing of anti-drone rifle in Kyiv.

Igor Lutsenko*

KYIV — The current war in Ukraine is a game of hide-and-seek. Both sides are very well-stocked with artillery, enough to destroy the enemy along many kilometers. Swarms of drones fly through the air day and night, keeping a close eye on the earth's surface below. If they notice something interesting, it immediately becomes a target. Depending on the priority, they put it in line for destruction by artillery.

Therefore, the only effective way to survive is to hide, or at least somehow prove to the drones your non-priority status — and avoid moving to the front of the 'queue of death.'

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In general, the nature of this queue is a particular thing. It may seem to be a god, but is instead a simple artillery captain's decision of when to have lunch, and when to fire on the house where several enemy soldiers are staying. It's just a handful of ordinary people (observers, artillerymen) deciding how long their enemies will live depending on their own schedule or the weather, the availability of ammunition or if they're feeling tired.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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