November 5, 2019
Two Japanese nurses left work in Japan to volunteer their skills and expertise in improving maternal and child health services in Eastern Visayas.
Namie Oshima, 28, nurse at Red Cross Takayama and Urakawa Hospital in Japan and Eri Shimokakimoto, 31, nurse at Osaka Medical College Hospital are in Eastern Visayas as part of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Volunteer Program, a component of Japan's Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Philippines. As volunteers, both Oshima and Shimokakimoto are tasked to help resolve some of the gaps in maternal and child health services in Philippine rural areas: decrease maternal and child mortality at childbirth and improve prenatal and newborn care services in rural health units (RHUs).
"I assist in training the hospital staff on essential newborn care practices and work with Ormoc District Hospital (ODH) on a Program for Young Parents (PYP) to promote health education among teenage mothers," said Oshima.
Maternal mortality ratio in the Philippines is particularly high at 114 deaths for every 100,000 live births, data from the World Health Organization (WHO) Health Statistics showed. Neonatal deaths in the country are also at 12.6 for every 1,000 live births. By 2030, the global target is reduction of maternal mortality ratio to 70 for every 100,000 live births and neonatal mortality rate of 12 for every 1,000 live births, data from WHO likewise showed. Oshima said addressing these numbers would need technical support through knowledge sharing with medical staff, adequate patient knowledge on MCH, 5S (a Japanese management technique for efficiency and safety) in hospital management, and information dissemination of useful information to mothers.
Meanwhile, Japanese volunteer Shimokakimoto is training hospital staff in a RHU in Leyte on newborn care and resuscitation and encouraging prenatal checkups among mothers. "It is very important to educate mothers in rural areas especially those with high risk pregnancies on the importance of checkups. Also, some 53 rural health workers in Leyte attended her trainings on pregnancy tracking to easily detect high-risk pregnancies. "We learned from our JICA volunteer the importance of early detection of high risk mothers for early referral. She also helps us use properly portable ultrasound machine and equipment for detecting fetal heartbeat," added Melita Aringoy, the nurse counterpart of Shimokakimoto.
The dispatch of Japanese volunteers in Eastern Visayas in the Philippines is not the first effort of JICA to support maternal and child health services in rural areas. JICA has implemented MCH programs in the Cordillera that significantly reduced maternal and child health mortality in said areas through increasing facility-based delivery services and information dissemination to mothers.
To know more about the JICA Volunteer Program and how to request for a volunteer, visit:
JICA Volunteer Eri Shimokakimoto (center) assists in providing newborn care at a rural health unit in Leyte
JICA Volunteer Namie Oshima (right) provides health education to young mothers in a district hospital in Leyte