American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

2015 International Volunteer Award: Rifat Latifi

Rifat Latifi, MD, FACS, a trauma and general surgeon from Tucson, AZ, received the 2015 International Surgical Volunteerism Award for helping to establish telemedicine and e-health programs in underdeveloped countries, especially those recovering from conflict and in need of major rebuilding of their health care systems.

Dr. Latifi’s telemedicine program began in Kosovo, where the medical infrastructure was destroyed during the war of 1999. He and his collaborators built a state-of-the-art telemedicine program that included technical infrastructure, virtual education programs, videoconferencing capabilities, and an electronic library that uses the Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI). The Initiate-Build-Operate-Transfer (IBOT) model designed by Dr. Latifi and his collaborators ensures the program’s sustainability and has been successfully replicated in Albania and Cabo Verde, Africa, and is currently present in 44 hospitals.

Being the founder and president of the not-for-profit International Virtual e-Hospital (IVeH), Dr. Latifi was able to introduce telemedicine, telehealth, virtual educational programs, and seminars though the IVeH network to fulfill the need for continuing medical education (CME). The telemedicine centers can be used for disaster preparedness to educate medical staff and improve educational capacities as an e-learning platform. Dr. Latifi and his team trained both physicians and administrators to operate these systems.

Dr. Latifi is professor of surgery, University of Arizona, Tucson, and is an active member of the American Telemedicine Association, vice-president of the International Society for Telemedicine and e-Health, and Chair of the Health Information Technology Committee of the ACS. In addition, he is an advisor to the Multinational Telemedicine for Disaster Management for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and he previously served on the advisory board of the European Space Agency.

See more photos on the Bulletin website.