Muscat: Oman and Germany will cooperate to implement telemedicine for stroke care in Oman. The goal of the cooperation is to set up a competent stroke service of the highest level, which will benefit the people of Oman.
A conference on telemedicine in stroke care was held under the patronage of Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Saidi, minister of Health, and Hans-Christian Freiherr von Reibnitz, ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, at the Royal Hospital recently.
Prof. Dr S. Schwab and Dr L. Marquardt from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg presented an overview of state-of-the-art stroke care using telemedicine and a quality management system. In Erlangen, Bavaria, they run one of the world's largest and only certified stroke network using telemedicine that cares for over 5,000 patients each year.
Stroke is the number one cause of permanent disability and the number two cause of death, worldwide. Unfortunately, the incidence of stroke is increasing, especially among younger people in the Arab world. Personal and health care system costs amount to $150,000 per patient in the Western countries and are just as high in Oman.
Public awareness and acute treatment of stroke are cornerstones for decreasing the burden of the disease. Specialised knowledge is also necessary in peripheral hospitals to ensure that each patient gets the same high standard of treatment possible in a tertiary care set-up.
In their presentation, the experts from Germany demonstrated the most advanced telemedical system, by setting up a live connection to their stroke centre at the University of Erlangen, over 6,000km away. The audience received special greetings from the Bavarian Health Ministry.
In addition, the experts demonstrated a real-time neurological examination in another live connection to a rural hospital in Bavaria, which is part of their stroke network. The optical capacities and the quality of the live connection of the demonstration were very impressive.
The minister as well as the German ambassador pointed out that this technology could be key to the development of a nation-wide stroke network, as well as for other medical conditions, such as acute myocardial infarction, radiology, and cancer care.
It was agreed that the next stage of implementing a comprehensive and sustainable cooperation between Bavaria and Oman would now be entered into.
The goal is to cooperate on several different levels, including public education, professional education and teaching, exchange programmes, implementing a certified nationwide stroke unit care using telemedicine, and neuro-rehabilitation.
An exchange of doctors and nurses will be the first step, followed by the implementation of a nation-wide network. Regional hospitals in each district of Oman could be connected to this network in the future.
The big advantage of this approach versus commercially available networks is the sustainability and the professionalism of the German group.
Their goal is to set up a competent stroke service on the highest possible level, which will benefit people in the Sultanate.