Smart Diaspora: Romanian diaspora in higher education, science, innovation and entrepreneurship

From April 10 to 13, 2023, a new edition of the Conference of the Romanian Academic and Scientific Diaspora was organized in Timișoara, an event under the Patronage of the President of Romania, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digitization, the Timișoara University Alliance (ATU), UEFISCDI and the Romanian Academy.

During the conference “Smart Diaspora: Diaspora in higher education, science, innovation and entrepreneurship. Diaspora and its friends – 2023” a series of 38 exploratory workshops took place with the aim of facilitating scientific collaboration between Romanian researchers and those from the diaspora.

The workshop “Innovative Techniques and Interdisciplinary and Interinstitutional Collaboration to Improve Health Status at the Population Level” was conducted under the coordination of Ms. Dean within the Faculty of Dentistry of the “Victor Babeș” University of Medicine and Pharmacy from Timisoara, Prof. Dr. Meda-Lavinia Negruțiu; Head of the Tobaccoology Department of the Romanian Society of Pneumology, Lecturer Dr. Monica Marc; prof. Lucia Maria Lotrean, University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Iuliu Hatieganu” from Cluj-Napoca; Cornel Radu – Loghin, European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention (ENSP, Brussels, Belgium); Prof. Claudia Cotca, Liberty University School of Health Sciences, Graduate School, USA; Professor Horia Manolea, U.M.F. CRAIOVA.

The workshop included 2 themes. The first theme focused on the theme “Digital technologies in the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of oral diseases”. The objectives proposed in this session were aimed at improving the methods for early identification of oral dysplasias and carcinomas.

A full-day workshop on April 12 covered the second theme entitled “Political strategies and programs for the prevention and cessation of the use of tobacco products and electronic cigarettes – the role of cooperation between academic institutions, governmental and non-governmental organizations”. A series of sessions was coordinated by Lecturer Dr. Monica Marc, Chair of the Tobaccology Section within the Romanian Pneumology Society (SRP), together with Prof. Lotrean University Dr. Lucia Maria from Cluj-Napoca and Radu – Loghin Cornel (ENSP, Brussels, Belgium). ENSP was closely involved in the organization of these activities, bringing the European perspective, knowledge and tools to the national level and building bridges between the Romanian and European approaches to tackling tobacco use.

The workshop discussed examples of good practice in health promotion and prevention of the consumption of tobacco products and electronic cigarettes, as well as useful research tools for collecting, analysing and disseminating data at an academic level among decision-makers, civil society members and the general public. The ENSP Secretariat, together with high-level academia representatives from Romania, has provided useful insights regarding the variety of strategies, policies and programmes to be implemented regarding smoking prevention and cessation.

Key points of the sessions:

  • Participants learned about the variety and specificity of existing methods of tobacco use and associated devices.
  • Participants underlined the need to raise awareness about the importance of screening among smokers. In addition, practitioners must permanently provide “minimal advice” to their smoker patients.
  • Participants acknowledged the role of NGOs, academia and policy makers in the health ecosystem, as well as the significant influence of the tobacco industry and the deceptive techniques used to sell tobacco products. In addition, it was agreed on the importance of several stakeholder meetings to develop appropriate comprehensive long-term strategies, with a major impact on the health systems.
  • Particular attention should be paid to health literacy and the accessibility of information, tools and resources to the general public. The tools available at European level need to be better marketed and adapted to the general Romanian public and other key stakeholders.
  • The need to create more local support networks for smoking cessation using empathic counseling methods was pointed out.
  • The Romanian situation should be approached from two perspectives: on the one hand it should be more open to the adoption of the EU recommendations, and on the other hand it should adapt the implementation of such measures to the local population and culture.
  • Those present declared a clear wish for help
  • Attendees stated a clear desire to provide help with long-term impact and their will to use pharmacotherapy in treating tobacco dependence. Moreover, they committed to a healthier future and to support the implementation of tobacco-free environments in their everyday clinical practice.
  • It has been concluded that the young generation should be actively involved at all levels in order to correctly reflect the reality on the field and provide concrete lines of action.

The workshop activities have been successfully completed. A great number of speakers and participants contributed to the success of the event. All attendees concluded that there is a need for similar activities in the future, which will allow everyone to explore the efforts undertaken by a wide range of international organisations, civil society, and scholars to translate the vision of a Tobacco-Free Generation into practice and recognize the value of combining efforts of the medical community, academia, civil society and officials to put an end to the tobacco epidemic.

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