Indonesia expands robotic telesurgery project with Iran

Robotic telesurgery continues to take off in Indonesia with the support of the government of Iran.

The Robotic Telesurgery Center, a project between the two governments, is being expanded to connect the western and eastern islands of Indonesia at a distance of 3,500 kilometres. The Haji Adam Malik Central General Hospital, North Sumatra in western Indonesia and the Dr Wahidin Sudirohusodo Makassar, Sulawesi in eastern Indonesia recently signed a memorandum of understanding to join the project.


The Indonesian government is pursuing robotic telesurgery as a strategy in telemedicine to improve access to quality referral health services, particularly for remote communities.

The Ministry of Health has reached out to Iran to help establish robotic telesurgery in the country. It cited benefits such as reduced patient travel distances, increased surgical accuracy, and shorter recovery periods, among others. Infection rates are also minimised as the procedure is done remotely. Robotic telesurgery is hoped to be applied in digestive, urology and gynaecology procedures in the future.


The expansion of the robotic telesurgery project followed the success of the pilot done in May last year involving Dr Hasan Sadikin Hospital in Bandung and Dr Sardjito Hospital in Yogyakarta. Sina Robotics provided its robotic surgical system to the pilot sites, which are 500 kilometres apart. Local telecommunications company Telkomsel supported the long-distance trial by providing 5G connectivity. Participating surgeons and resident doctors were first trained using control consoles that simulate surgical procedures, then they were able to demonstrate the system on a test animal.

The project, which began in 2021, is now entering its fourth year; Iran and Indonesia will be focusing on technology transfer and local production of robotic surgery systems in partnership with state-owned enterprises, including Indofarma. 

In other news, Singapore and Japan also made their first robotic telesurgery operation last year in October. The National University Hospital in Singapore and Fujita Health University in Japan conducted a remote gastrectomy over 3,000 miles apart. 


“We hope that this robotic telesurgery technology will be able to provide surgical services to all communities in remote areas with the same quality as in big cities,” Dr Zainal Safri, director of Haji Adam Malik Central General Hospital, was quoted as saying in a statement.

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