Beginning the NCGM’s first international treatment cooperation project|Center Hospital of National Center for Global Health and Medicine
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Beginning the NCGM’s first international treatment cooperation project
Standing in Bolivia

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  • The International Medical Cooperation Department (later, Bureau) was established with the mission of promoting “help with a face.” Its staff consists of people who were interested in engaging in international cooperation. Bolivia in South America was the site of its first project.
  • The project first began in 1987 in Santa Cruz, Bolivia at Santa Cruz General Hospital, which would later become recognized as the Japanese Hospital.
  • However, there were significant hurdles to completing the project. Then-project manager Furuta Naoki said, “We had to take on the challenge of teaching treatment techniques to the doctors, despite knowing next to nothing about Bolivian culture and society, and not being able communicate except through an interpreter because the medical staff in Bolivia could hardly speak any English.”
  • 003.jpgMeanwhile, Nakasa Tamotsu, who went to Bolivia as a surgical specialist recalled: “I was examining a 12-year-old patient in the ER with a Bolivian doctor. He had pain in his lower right abdomen, a high fever, a high white blood cell count, and possibly acute appendicitis. I thought we’d definitely need to do surgery, but when I told the Bolivian doctor, he immediately wrote a prescription and gave it to the patient’s mother. The mother left the hospital, and even after three hours she didn’t come back. We waited there thinking, ‘the child is still experiencing pain in his stomach…’”
  • “When I asked him what he wrote on the prescription, he listed everything, from medicine to the required equipment for the operation: a syringe, 20cc of ketamine (anesthetic), three packs of gauze, 2,000cc of Hartmann’s IV drip, and a roll of bandages. That is because the hospital does not provide these things.” The doctors were finally able to begin the operation the next morning, after patient family brought all the supplies had come.
  • The lesson of the story is that “the facility has to be equipped for the techniques to be taught.” The NCGM’s first project created a solid bond between Bolivia and Japan that has lasted over the past 30 years.
    (from Dancing in the Blue Skies of Bolivia: A healthcare cooperation linking hearts and minds)