Telemedicine to Nenets tundra

Nenets has telemedicine equipment, but too few doctors can use it. The Barents health program has supported a project to promote the use of Norwegian telemedicine expertise to improve health care in Nenets.

Today too many inexperienced doctors lack technological skills to use telemedicine and there is a low awareness on its potential among Nenets health personnel. This has made the introduction of telemedicine in rural areas of Russia difficult.

A two years Norwegian-Russian project is initiated to help change this situation.

- I think this project will make it clearer for local doctors in Nenets which possibilities that open with telemedicine, says Svetlana Manankova Bye who is project manager and advisor at the Norwegian Centre for Integrated Care and Telemedicine at UNN.

Seldom used
Nenets Autonomus Okrog is a huge region with sparsely populated areas. This makes it challenging and expensive to secure a good health care for the nomadic herders on the tundra. Air medical service for emergency assistance is common, but a helicopter costs up to 3000 $ per hour.

Telemedicine services have therefore become an important contribution to the health care in this region. It has been developed gradually since year 2000 and today 15 remote hospitals have telemedicine equipment. The problem is that doctors use it too seldom.

Barents health
The project is supported by the Barents Health program and intends to improve the work and communication between the central Nenets Okrug Hospital and the 15 remote hospitals in the Okrug. During the project Nenets doctors will be sent to the University Hospital of Northern Norway (UNN) for training, and skilled personnel on telemedicine from UNN will come to Nenets to teach local doctors on how to use the advanced equipment.

Important aims of the projects is to establish remote health monitoring of pregnant women and children, teach rural doctors to use of telemedicine and also to assist Russia in the development of a better telemedicine policy.

The kickoff seminar for the project was organized by experts from UNN, and was held in Naryan Mar on the 9th til 11th of October. The seminar gathered 70 participants from Norway and Russia.

Written by Andrey Vokuev

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