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Human Story

"Don't say ‘we can't’!" Building trust with the people in Bangladesh (1)

–JOCV activities in Jessore–

Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCVs) jump into the community without enough experiences. But they tie a knot with Bangladeshi people at the frontier of international cooperation. They support the people and at the same time they are supported by them. They teach how to do it and they are taught. Here are just some of the examples of JOCV activities in Jessore, Bangladesh.

5S in Provincial Hospital --- Ms. Rie Takahashi

Ms. Rie Takahashi, 33 years old, was convinced that just cleaning up the working places could make a change in the attitude toward the jobs. She has been placed in the Department of Health in Jessore for Safe Motherhood Promotion Project Phase 2, (SMPP-2) as a JOCV.

Her assignment is to improve the environment of the hospitals in Jessore. For achieving it, the project adopts 5S activities and TQM framework. 5S activities mean the five steps of improving the working place environment. In English, it means SORT, SET, SHINE, STANDRDIZE, SUSTAIN. After they can improve the work environment through 5S, they will move to change the working process by Kaizen (continuous quality improvement) and to improve quality of services by TQM (Total Quality Management).

"I started with separating used injection needles and other garbage" Ms. Takahashi said in one of her working places, the Jessore Provincial Hospital. The hospital has 250 beds and always suffers from lack of nurses and staff members. Two nurses have to take care of 38 beds and staff members of the pharmacy are always very busy. Nobody has enough time to think about improving the working environment or grouping the garbage. Therefore, when Ms. Takahashi called for 5S and Kaizen, everyone laughed at her, saying "no, we can't do it."

Ms. Takahashi, however, replied with her warm smile. "Don't say ‘we can't do it.'" She just keeps on saying that to them, and to herself at the same time.

Being a nurse was Ms. Takahashi's dream. She made her dream come true and was working in the department of cerebral surgery in Japan. For her, 5S was not what she really wanted to do. She wanted to cooperate with more professional skills as a nurse. But she considered that what they needed here now was 5S. By achieving 5S, the nurses and pharmacists can improve their work environment and can have more time for patients. It would produce "time," she believed.

Ms. Takahashi tried to create good models of 5S in the hospital, picking up one hospital ward and pharmacy. "We did not have budget for buying something new for 5S activities. So we recycled used materials." She instructed her colleagues to make garbage boxes for the used injection needles, wrapping red paper around the used medicine boxes. They wrapped black paper around the used boxed for other garbage for segregation. Ms. Takahashi explained them the reason why they needed to do it.

One day, one of her colleagues, Mr. Ratan Kumar Sarker, 45 year old, came much earlier than usual. He has been working as a pharmacist for more than 20 years. "I had been thinking that we needed to clean up the pharmacy for better job, but did not know how to do it. I was impressed and inspired by Ms. Takahashi's activity." He started to come to the hospital 15 to 30 minutes earlier everyday to work on 5S since then.

Now, the pharmacy is cleaned up and well organized. Medicines are arranged on the shelves neatly and it does not take long time to find what they want. The pharmacy is only a part of the hospital and they need to expand 5S activities to the other areas of the hospital. But even though it is small, we clearly see the result of Ms. Takahashi's work here.

To be continued

PhotoMs. Takahashi and Mr. SarKer, talking in their pharmacy (Jessore)

PhotoThe reception of the pharmacy is organized now (Jessore)


PhotoGarbage boxes for segregation in the hospital ward (Jessore)

PhotoWell-organized closet for medicines and other medical materials (Jessore)


PhotoThe model ward for 5S in Jessore Provincial Hospital (Jessore)

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