Italian army using Telemedicine in Iraq

Telemedicine centre
Telemedicine centre in Iraq
9 June 2004

The Italian military has opened a telemedicine centre at the Tallil Airbase hospital in Iraq. It is available to both Italian soldiers and for local humanitarian needs. The satellite Earth station is based on ESA Telecom funded technology.

The telemedicine centre allows medical workers in Iraq to transfer clinical data and images between the hospital of Tallil and the Celio Military Hospital in Rome. ''This service offers enormous advantages", stated Martino, the Italian Defense Minister. "It will be as if the entire Celio hospital is available to soldiers in An Nasiriyah."

Minister Antonio Martino inaugurates telemedicine hospital
Italian Minister Antonio Martino inaugurates telemedicine hospital

The Italian Minister of Defence, Antonio Martino inaugurated the hospital on May 26 at the Tallil Airbase, located approximately 310 kilometres southeast of Baghdad and 20 kilometres southwest of the city of An Nasiriyah.

TelBios, the Italian company that developed the technology, also supplied the ground station, satellite capacity as well as telecommunications and medical equipment. A 24-hour-a-day satellite connection exists between the station in Iraq and the Celio hospital. Capacity has been built in so that the centre can eventually be connected with other hospitals in the TelBios telemedicine network.

Given the fact that no local telecom facilities in Iraq are being used, satcom is the only technology that can make a broadband link available to such areas in such a short time.

Telemedicine equipment can be transported by truck
Telemedicine equipment can be transported by truck

The telemedicine and communications equipment is kept in a shelter and can be transported on a truck. It includes a climate-controlled environment allowing operational deployment to any theatre in which military forces need to operate.

The new telemedicine-station evolved from the SHARED and EuroMedNet projects with ESA Telecom. SHARED started in 1996 in support of the peacekeeping mission in Sarajevo. It endeavoured to set up a pre-operational Telemedicine system linking the Italian Military Field Hospital in Sarajevo, Celio and the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan based on the DICE (Direct Inter-establishment Communication Equipment) video-conference system.

EuroMedNet was dedicated to building an extended network and running pilot operations involving 12 different sites equipped with satellite stations.

Andrea Mason, from Telbios and Project Leader for EuroMedNet reported that Telbios plans to install another terminal at Al Mansur Hospital in Baghdad quite soon.

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