English / Japanese

[Department of Nursing & Health, School of Nursing & Health]
Professor YANAGISAWA Satoko

Won’t you think with me about what local governments, companies, and universities can do for community medical care?

The Issues Facing International Nursing Now

My first post overseas was in a mountainous area of Thailand. I had expected that life would be tough in a developing country where sewers and electricity were not widespread, but water was easy enough to pump by hand, and electricity were able to be covered with a generator. Even now, I can picture the people from ethnic minority groups singing songs for us at night, chatting with us, and otherwise leading everyday lives quite normally. “International nursing,” which is my field of work, is a domain dealing with globally shared health issues that cannot be solved by one country or that should be solved by each country working together. Since it extends across a wide area, ranging from emergency aid to maternal and child health, genetic research and vaccine development for infectious diseases, and national health policy, there will likely be a need for more specialization in the future. Currently, the following items are counted as global health issues:

・Reducing the deaths of children under five
・ Women’s health and rights regarding sex and reproduction
・ Infectious diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria issues
・ Nutritional issues
・ Human resource development in each field

For example, even if you send the latest medical equipment to a site, there are times when it cannot be fully utilized because of a shortage of human resources capable of operating and maintaining it. Also lamentable is the fact that United Nations organizations, such as the WHO and UNICEF, and various advanced nations are all conducting their own aid efforts, giving the appearance of a power game.

What I Hope for from Those of You in Communities and Companies

When we think about community health, there are statistical data showing that approximately 30,000 people die alone across Japan annually, as local ties are not working the way they once did. In recent years, citizens groups and others have pushed for building new networks and communities more in tune with the times and have implemented safety checks using mailings, newspapers, and electric meters, but I feel that it’s important to make better use of the power of local communities, such as encouraging the elderly to reach out to each other. We also need to expand the range of options for today’s elderly in order to accommodate their increasingly diverse values and lifestyles. More elderly are caring for the elderly, so there will likely be greater demand in the future for enhancing infrastructures such as temporary relief systems to allow caregivers to rest and round-the-clock, year-round home medical care.

In companies, there has been much attention paid to issues such as psychiatric care for depression and other mental illnesses and metabolic syndrome. Many people spend most of their lives in companies, so we might say that companies are taking on the role of preventing lifestyle-related diseases and promoting health. With companies tackling health issues more proactively, we will likely be able to reduce the burden on community medical care in the future.

At our university, we have offered a “Community and Home Care Studies Class” and have been promoting the marketing of medical care services, research on the elderly and dementia, and other efforts to accumulate various kinds of information by tapping into our networks with research institutions outside the university. By cooperating with all of you in government, local governments, companies, and various organizations, I hope to work on community medical care from now on.


Department of Nursing and Health, School of Nursing and Health

Professor YANAGISAWA Satoko

Areas of Specialty: Community and Home Care, International Nursing

She grew up with “feelings of pride” in her young heart for her mother, a nurse, who wore a uniform. In high school, she was deeply impressed by a book by Dr. Noboru IWAMURA, who was engaged in medical activities in Nepal, and became interested in the field of international nursing. She herself has been sent overseas to Cambodia and Uzbekistan. In addition to her research on developing countries, she is conducting evaluative and investigative research into domestic and local health issues, including maternal and child health, home care, and visiting care.

Interview: KASUGAI Takashi; Writer: MIYAMOTO Yumiko


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