Nato-Russia Council

NRC Telemedicine Seminar


NRC nations participated in an Advanced Research Workshop in Bucharest, on 3-4 September 2012 as part of the NRC Science for Peace and Security Program. The workshop “Towards a multinational telemedicine capability for rendering medical services to populations in disaster response and crisis management” brought together both civilian and military experts from NRC nations in order to identify the most important issues in the complex field of telemedicine. 

Telemedicine is an evolving field of medicine in which the caregiver may be separated from the patient by distance or time. Through the use of modern communications technologies, a medical specialist is able to assess a patient, determine the diagnosis and provide timely recommendations to the on-site caregiver. In essence, it is an extension of the care that we currently give, allowing the input of other specialists and experts who would not ordinarily have been available.

The NRC telemedicine conference was an excellent first step in establishing a multinational response via telemedicine.  All participating representatives expressed the general desire to proceed with further discussions in the future.

The initiative was conceived in 2010, when Russia presented a proposal for cooperation in the field of telemedicine to the NRC-SPS Committee. In November 2011, Dr. Raed Arafat, a Romanian expert, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Health and President of the NATO Working Group on Emergency Medicine agreed to be co-director of the project with Russian expert Mr. Mikhail Natenzon, the President of the National Telemedicine Agency.

The importance of this initiative for NRC nations was recognised by the participants at this workshop, which included several well-known international telemedicine experts from Russia, Romania, United States, France, Spain, and Germany.

In his opening speech the Romanian Prime-Minister, Mr. Victor Ponta, emphasised the importance of this joint initiative. Several important Romanian political representatives also spoke supporting the initiative (Mr. Mircea Duşa, Minister of Administration and Home Affairs; Gen. Corneliu Dobriţoiu, Minister of Defense; Dr. Vasile Cepoi, Minister of Health; Mr. Iulian Fota, President’s Advisor on National Security; and Mr. Bogdan Aurescu, Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs). Ambassador Sorin Ducaru, the Permanent Representative of Romania to NATO, supported the organisation of the workshop and was also present at the event.

All NRC participants felt that continuing this dialogue would be worthwhile in order to work towards a multinational disaster response network. In particular they supported the idea of holding a second workshop in the Russian Federation early next year. Looking further forward, the workshop participants also discussed the possibility of launching an SPS project titled «Multinational telemedicine system for rendering medical and social assistance to populations in disaster response and crisis management ». This will be further discussed during the next workshop, which is due to take place in Moscow in February 2013.