FORMER SOVIET UNION
MITAC through its relationship with NASA has established a strong
foundation for telemedicine and distance learning activities in
the former Soviet Union. MITAC is working closely with several academic
centers and commercial organizations in Russia, Moldova, Uzbekistan,
Armenia and Georgia.
United States and the Republics of the former Soviet Union have
long had a capricious relationship, oscillating between animosity
and cooperation. Projects such as the 1989 Spacebridge to Armenia
and the NASA Spacebridge with Russia, demonstrate that positive
support and exchange of knowledge is mutually beneficial. In that
spirit, MITAC strives to use telemedicine not only as a means to
advance the practice of medicine in the remote and frequently destitute
far reaches of the former Soviet Republic, but also improve relations
between the two countries.
In the past few years the former Soviet Republics have undergone
considerable change. The 1991 replacement of Soviet bureaucracy
with increased democracy and freedom of association resulted in
economic reform that plunged much of Russia into the depths of poverty.
MITAC's goal is to improve this situation through focusing on telemedicine
and distance education.
trips to Moscow in September 2000, December 2000, and most recently
in June 2001 were made to accomplish this goal. MITAC's distance
learning project is a collaborative effort with the Moscow State
Medical and Dental University, a clinical site Railway Hospital
#3 named for N.A. Semashko and the Hospital Ministry of Railroads.
The project goals are international collaboration between medical
students and elucidation of the ideal method to implement distance
works closely with the Space Biomedical Center for Training and
Research (SBC) on commercial telemedicine activities. The SBC is
an institution originally established in 1994 by NASA in an agreement
between the USA and the Government of Russian Federation on cooperation
in science and technology. This cooperation has resulted in joint
Russian and American manuscript and patent preparation of unique
technologies. MITAC and SBC are also modifying the Telecollaboration
On-Line Database (TOLD). TOLD is a web-based tool that has capabilities
as an electronic medical record, an interactive tool for education
and distance learning, and as a clinical consultation platform.
A contract with ZIL hospital to work on commercial telemedicine
consultations and exploration of TANA support is also underway.
has interactions with other regions of the former Soviet Union including
Moldova, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan. High officials from the Moldovan
government have met with MITAC representatives in the U.S. to discuss
collaborations in telemedicine and distance learning. The Moldovan
government is currently exploring the possibilities of application
and integration of information and telecommunications technology
in health care and would like to partner with VCU and MITAC in grant
application. In April 2001 MITAC representatives visited Moldova
to become familiarized with academic and clinical facilities and
to explore collaborative activities in telemedicine and distance
learning initiatives with the International Independent University
of Moldova (ULIM) and the City of Chisinau Department of Health.
A Memorandum of Understanding has been established between MITAC,
VCU Surgery, ULIM and the City of Chisianu Health Department.
In March 2001 the ambassador of the Republic of Uzbekistan visited
with MITAC to discuss mutually beneficial projects and joint funding
opportunities. In April 2001 a MITAC contingent visited the Embassy
of Uzbekistan to further discuss collaboration. MITAC has had visitors
from Azerbaijan interested in exploring the development of telemedicine
in the outlying areas of the Baku Region.
MITAC continues to plan and participate in a multitude of diverse
projects with the former Soviet Union. These plans include further
visits from officials from the former Soviet Union, further research
into Russian and American medical student interaction, and a jointly
chaired Endoscopic Surgery Conference in Moscow in April 2002. It
is MITAC's vision that these projects will result in a mutually
beneficial relationship enhancing the understanding and knowledge
base of both countries.
MITAC negotiated and signed an affiliate agreement with the Diagnostica
Center, a clinical site in Yerevan, Armenia that provides private
diagnostic services and is interested in continued development and
integration of telemedicine into health care. The President of the
Diagnostica Center is the former Minister of Health for Armenia
and has been working with the MITAC team for a number of years.
This center was one of the major participants in the Spacebridge
to Armenia in 1989. MITAC interacts with the Diagnostica through
the exchange of faculty, curriculum, and teleconsultations.
The National Information Learning Center located in Tbilisi, Georgia
has worked closely with MITAC to explore collaborative activities
in telemedicine and distance learning.