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Visit to Site of Mother and Child Healthcare Improvement Project in Yunnan, China
In November 2017, we visited the community center to monitor the progress of this activity and commend the local volunteers who play such an important role in the project. The community center is meant to serve as a venue for mutual learning by helping collect and share information regarding mother and child health and nutrition management. A total of six such community centers have been established, one for each township*1, in areas targeted by this project, and these facilities are staffed by local volunteers and healthcare professionals (village doctors).
*1 In China, general administrative levels are province > county > township > village.
Essential Newborn Care (ENC) Training
We observed ENC*2 training at the Guangnan County mother and child health center. The project’s goals are to increase the number of trained healthcare professionals in Guangnan County, to enable village doctors to manage child health under the guidance of these healthcare professionals, and to facilitate the smooth provision of healthcare throughout Guangnan County.
Twenty healthcare professionals undergoing training
One participant described her impressions of the training: "We obtained various types of new knowledge during the training, learning to check immediately after birth to confirm that newborns are breathing, to initiate physical contact between mother and child within 90 minutes, and to keep the newborn’s body warm. By sharing with my colleagues the things I have learned, I hope to help enhance the hospital’s overall function."
*2 Essential newborn care (ENC) is a set of guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) on activities aimed at reducing infant mortality in developing countries where healthcare systems are limited. These activities incorporate the three main principles of ENC: moisturizing, nutrition (breastfeeding), and disease prevention.
Community Center Visit
The community center provides health education for parents twice each month.
The trip from central Guangnan County to the community center takes around one hour by car, over mountainous terrain.
･ Health Education for Parents
Working with local volunteers, village doctors emphasize the importance of customary hand-washing and provide lectures on such topics as how to treat burns. At the same time, lectures on disaster preparedness are provided as a part of this project, as Yunnan Province is subject to frequent earthquakes.
･ Commendation of Local Volunteers
We commended local volunteers for their proactive efforts to positively influence the local community. These volunteers gather information about the health of mothers and children living in their area, as well as information related to nutritional management. They also communicate with village doctors and play an important role in managing the community center. The commendations provided encouragement to newly joined volunteers who support this project.
･ Interviews with Village Doctor
We exchanged views with village doctor, who maintain the health of their villages’ residents.
One doctor commented, “In this village, two village doctors cover around 4,200 residents. In March 2016, we underwent training on the integrated management of childhood illnesses (IMCI), which gave us confidence in our ability to handle complicated situations. I hope to continue contributing to the health of the village.”
In the two and a half years since activities began, the IMCI training and ENC training provided in Guangnan County have earned accolades from county hospitals. The activities have also begun resulting in positive reported outcomes, such contributing to improvement in the maternal mortality rate in Guangnan County. We will continue following up to ensure smooth healthcare relations between village doctors and country and township hospitals.
This project is focused on contributing to the accomplishment of “Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” of the Sustainable Development Goals, a set of goals adopted by member states of the United Nations in relation to issues needing to be addressed on a global scale. Accordingly, we are receiving support from the non-governmental organization Plan International Japan, a member of Plan International, in advancing this project. The project has also been recognized as an activity under the Access Accelerated initiative, and is introduced on its website. This initiative, which centers on corporate IFPMA members, aims to promote improvements in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in low- and middle-income countries.