FOR A STRONGER FUTURE
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Japan has answered a unified call to redress the inequalities brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic through a global health campaign. Committed to the “leave no one behind” pledge adopted by all United Nations members, Japan has stepped up its efforts to share healthcare technology, knowledge, and funding to countries that need them the most.
Since the pandemic outbreak, numerous countries in Africa and Asia have benefited from Japan’s efforts to counter Covid-19. These include programs that aim to provide basic healthcare access for all individuals now and in the future while encouraging technological and academic exchanges in medicine.
Often, these programs build upon existing networks of cooperation. In Vietnam, Japan has long provided grants and technical assistance to the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) in Hanoi. As a result, the NIHE was equipped with a well-maintained laboratory to conduct Covid-19 diagnostic testing when the outbreak occured.
“Through technical training, we have developed an ability to test pathogens at preventative healthcare centers across the country. This capacity building will become essential in the coming years.”
In 2020, an additional USD 40 million in grant aid was extended to help Vietnam fight the virus. This support helped Vietnamese officials procure medical equipment, and conduct Covid-19 testing, a critical capability needed to keep down infection rates. Today, research centers throughout ten provinces in Vietnam can implement Covid-19 testing and provide individuals with access to high-quality basic healthcare, setting up the foundation for a modern national healthcare system.
“At a time when it is imperative to stop the spread of Covid-19, the support given to NIHE and other centers throughout the country, as well as the creation of a national healthcare services network, has delivered great benefits to Vietnamese citizens.”
In Ghana, a Japanese funded research facility is helping to modernize the country’s healthcare system while simultaneously tackling Covid-19. The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research was built in 1979 with the assistance of the Japanese government.
Since then, Japan has provided resources to improve the institute’s facilities, and expand its research and testing capacities. It has become a crucial conduit for technological and academic exchanges between Japan and Ghana.
Named after Dr. Hideyo Noguchi, who died of yellow fever while researching the disease in Ghana, the institute has overseen a successful exchange program that funded more than 50 Ghanaian medical researchers to participate in training programs in Japan. This group is now actively working on Ghana’s frontline in the fight against the virus, where they play an important part in leading a team of 120 workers carrying out wide-scale Covid-19 testing.
Thanks to their hard work and training, Ghana became the country with the third-largest test rates in Africa during the summer of 2020. At one point, work at the Noguchi Memorial Institute accounted for 80% of all tests in the nation.
“Training in Japan tremendously accelerated their comprehension [of medicine] by allowing them to witness Japan’s new techniques for research and experimentation.”
In addition to Covid-19 countermeasures, the institute has also strengthened Ghana’s overall pathogen diagnostics capabilities, with an advanced research center for infectious diseases. Opened in March 2019, the center has raised Ghana’s profile as a West African base for advanced disease research.
Japan has also been a vocal proponent of fair and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines especially for lower income countries through the COVAX Facility. COVAX has secured 2 billion doses of the vaccine, which will protect at least 20% of the participating populations by the end of 2021. As part of its commitment to international collaboration, Japan aims to contribute USD 200 million to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
Through UNICEF, Japan offers aid to countries hit worst by the spread of Covid-19, including those in Asia, Oceania, the Middle East, and Africa. Japan has donated critical supplies such as PPE (personal protective equipment), disinfectants, and soap to health and sanitation facilities as well as schools.
These efforts have enhanced healthcare workers’ capabilities, furthering education in hygiene, and increasing awareness of fundamental infection countermeasures, such as basic handwashing guidance.
In 2020, Japan has helped establish basic infrastructure to prevent infections across Myanmar. More than 4,000 public hand-sanitation stations have been installed. As a result, approximately 770,000 people are now able to wash their hands at these facilities.
At the core of Japan’s global fight against Covid-19 are countless human-level projects just like these. Amidst the crisis, Japan supports the autonomy of developing countries to protect individual health. The Japanese government will assist in realizing sustainable and decent medical care systems in both the medium and long term to achieve Universal Health Coverage.
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