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Arctic Telemedicine Conference Addresses Digital Support for Healthcare in the North

28 November 2022
Цифровое сопровождение здравоохранения на Севере обсудили на конференции «Арктическая телемедицина»

Participants in the 5th Arctic Telemedicine International Research and Training Conference discussed the current state of and prospects for the development of e-health in the North and the practical experience gained from introducing new information systems. The conference took place on 24 November as part of the plan of events of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council and the Nenets Autonomous District’s chairmanship of the Barents Regional Council in 2021–2023.

«Telemedicine is vital to our district. On average, there are almost 2,000 telemedicine consultations per year for 44,000 people, which is an impressive figure for the district. Our doctors mainly conduct online consultations with colleagues from the federal centres of Arkhangelsk, St. Petersburg, and Moscow, mostly for patients with cardiovascular diseases and cancer. They also provide consultations to people who need high-tech medical care. This is particularly important for our remote villages,» Nenets Autonomous District Governor Yury Bezdudny said.

The main goal of the event is for the professional community to consider special aspects of the digitalization of healthcare in the Arctic, which differs significantly from other regions of Russia in terms of its climatic and natural conditions. In particular, the conference participants discussed the development strategies for the Arctic regions in the context of healthcare, specific aspects of medicine in remote regions and the practical experience that Russia’s regions have gained in this regard, and the organization of remote monitoring. In addition, experts shared their experience in implementing telemedicine projects, including the introduction of such technologies in the Arctic and the provision of psychological assistance to workers at industrial facilities in remote regions.

The conference was attended by representatives of the federal and regional authorities, as well as specialists and experts in the medical industry. Based on their experience and analytics, the event organizers will develop a roadmap to overcome disparities caused by the climatic and geographical conditions of the Arctic. Representatives of the scientific community of China were among the foreign guests of the event.

«Russia and other countries of the Barents Region still face important tasks, and our northern European neighbours must come to the realization that we need to address them together. Even in the most difficult turbulent times, the multilateral mechanisms of regional cooperation in the North traditionally allowed for a discussion of common themes in a constructive manner. Regardless, Russia will continue to strengthen its presence in high latitudes,» said Andrey Kolesnikov, Deputy Director of the Second European Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Russia has declared telemedicine a priority for the implementation of the country’s national healthcare project. Telemedicine helps to vastly expand the list of available healthcare services for people living in remote regions. For the Arctic territories, the digitalization of healthcare is a vital challenge that has a fundamental impact on people’s quality of life. It is impossible to improve demographics and develop industry in the northern territories without affordable and effective medicine, the event organizers noted.

The conference was organized by the Administration of the Nenets Autonomous District, which is chairing the Barents Regional Council. The Roscongress Foundation manages the events of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

Developing human capital and improving the well-being and quality of life of the population, including the healthcare system and medical infrastructure in the Arctic, is among the top priorities of Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2021-2023. A cross-cutting theme of the Nenets Autonomous District’s chairmanship of the Barents Regional Council is overcoming the challenges created by the remoteness and inaccessibility of territories, including through initiatives that aim to take advantage of the opportunities offered by remote communication in healthcare.