News ID: 253255
Published: 0829 GMT May 24, 2019

NCGM: There is no stopping our progress to advance health for all

NCGM: There is no stopping our progress to advance health for all

“We stand on the side of people in need,” said Dr Norihiro Kokudo, President of the Japanese National Center for Global Health and Medicine (NCGM).

The Center, which is Japan’s pioneer and champion in international health cooperation, has been awarded the 2019 United Arab Emirates Health Foundation Prize at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, wrote.


More than 4800 experts to 140 countries


“It was in 1979, following the Alma-Ata Declaration, that Japan started to dispatch medical doctors,” said Kokudo. Since then, international health cooperation has expanded, often through the health programs of Japan’s International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

NCGM has deployed more than 4800 Japanese experts to 140 low- and middle-income countries to provide skills and knowledge, assist health authorities, conduct research and develop recommendations. NCGM-supported networks span across areas such as health systems strengthening, infectious diseases control, maternal and child health and universal health coverage. More than 5000 trainees have taken the NCGM health professionals’ courses, many of them to later become national leaders in their field.

The center has also deployed teams of doctors and nurses to 22 countries for 49 emergency and disaster relief operations (such as outbreaks of SARS, Ebola, zika and yellow fever).


From Japan to the world


NCGM works with ministries of health, national public health institutes, hospitals and universities, UN agencies and non-governmental actors.

Work normally starts with a country request for support through the Japanese embassy. Once NCGM is assigned a project, assessment dialogues with counterparts determine what precisely can be done to help the country best, such as technical assistance, training and operational research.


Here are some examples of this diverse work:


● In Zambia, NCGM helped pilot and expand a model of decentralized HIV treatment services at rural health centers.

● In Cambodia, the Center helped established a health user fees system.

● In Bolivia and Brazil, it supported the introduction of a health promotion model for community participation.

● To boost research on antimicrobial resistance, the Center facilitated cooperation between medical facilities in Japan, Myanmar, Nepal and Viet Nam and results were shared across Asia.

● To help build human resources for health, NCGM created a network of managers from 13 francophone African countries — a unique mode of peer learning and information sharing. The value of this investment became evident during the Ebola outbreak response — in the cooperation between Cote d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the use of the health information system in Senegal.

NCGM also helps develop midwifery capacities across the world, in partner countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Honduras, Madagascar, Pakistan and Senegal.


Help serve vulnerable populations


Japanese experts from NCGM work with national stakeholders to strengthen local health systems to better serve populations in remote areas and vulnerable communities. This includes training midwives in rural health centers in Cambodia, and training health staff to improve community health services in Myanmar.

The center also works to tackle vaccine-preventable diseases, including working with policymakers in China and Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

NCGM-led research on hepatitis B vaccine birth dose was used to inform national authorities as well as WHO for relevant policy development in Viet Nam.

“NCGM values WHO highly as the leading agency for normative guidance, and our research results should help WHO fulfill this mandate,” said Kokudo.

“Experiences of NCGM staff in lower-income countries have been applied for domestic activities,” said Kokudo. When Higashi-Matsushima city was hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011, staff with extensive experience from their work across the world provided support in the emergency and recovery phases.


Helping the world — an inspiring road to take


The center facilitates enthusiastic health professionals who want to serve in resource-limited settings worldwide.

“Students and professionals in medicine and public health should value the numerous entry points and opportunities for them to contribute to global health, regardless of their background or career stage,” Kokudo shares the NCGM vision.

Kokudo himself enjoyed international medical collaboration early in his career as a practicing surgeon working for international societies, giving advice and surgical training. Now president-elect of the International Hepato Pancreato Biliary Association (IHPBA) and president of the NCGM, he continues on this path of international service.  Kokudo travelled to the World Health Assembly in Geneva to accept the prize on behalf of the Center.

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