The European Space Agency has agreed to support an initiative from the Italian company Telbios. The initiative is called 'SIMONA: A Telemedicine Project for Iraq' and involves connecting a teaching hospital in Baghdad Iraq with the Hospital Umberto I of 'La Sapienza' University in Rome Italy.
In total two stations for video-conferencing have been installed. Each of these includes one audio/video terminal connected via satellite between the Teaching Hospital and Umberto I. Video conferencing allows consultations and the exchange of medical opinions for diagnosis and treatment. Internet access is also provided, permitting Iraq based medical personnel to access the most up-to-date medical literature.
The first video consults already took place in early August. In the first month, 20 patients were provided telemedicine consultations and positive results were immediate. A 50% reduction in childhood mortality from haematic afflictions such as acute leukaemia was accomplished.
The project has been operating since the summer of 2005 and was based on discussions which had begun in May 2003. At that time the Non-Governmental Organisation INTERSOS, a partner of the SIMONA project, was proposing a mission in order to better understand the professional needs and working conditions of Iraqi hospital personnel.
Two hospitals connected to Internet via satellite
"One of the greatest difficulties has been to identify knowledge centres which were able to do the technical installation of the system," explains Colitta Linen of Telbios. "Launching the plan required many pragmatic decisions."
"The Teaching Hospital of Baghdad is the only haematological centre of information in the whole of Iraq, and is specialised in treating children from infants to 15 years of age." After the Teaching Hospital of Baghdad became our first partner, we recognised the need to extend the collaboration to the areas of surgery and post-operative care."
The SIMONA project team consists of four partners. INTERSOS (see external links) has a co-ordinating function and is furthermore responsible for supplying medicines and medical materials.
SIMONA project team partners
The Haematology Section in the Department of Cellular Biotechnologies and Haematology from the Faculty of Medicine at 'La Sapienza' University of Rome is taking scientific responsibility for SIMONA. Along with Azienda Policlinico Umberto I (also part of 'La Sapienza' University), The Haematology Section will supply clinical competences for the telemedicine activities and the content for the e-learning courses.
Staying up-to-date on recent medical developments
Prime contractor Telbios is a supplier of e-learning and telemedicine services by providing the technological infrastructure for communication and application and of the management of the satellite services distribute to you. Telbios has earlier experience in such endeavours having established a training system for Romanian nurses under their ESA supported project SkyNurse (see related links).
ESA lends support to this plan in the within the area of Telemedicine as a follow on to an earlier ESA Telecom supported project EuroMedNet (see related links) also from Telbios.
To read more on ESA supported activities in the area of Telemedicine or about related projects and news from Telbios please click under related links at the top-right of this page.
SIMONA images Telbios