① Clinical Activities
The IGPC has partnered with Sierra Tropical Ltd. (STL), based in Lugbu Chiefdom, Bo District, Southern Province of the Republic of Sierra Leone, West Africa. We established a clinic in 2021 for perinatal care in the region and for STL employees. Since May 2022, we have started accepting deliveries and have been developing facilities and training national staff for emergency response, including minor surgeries and cesarean sections. The clinic clarifies its role in sharing with local medical facilities and accepts the management and emergency transportation of high-risk pregnant women who are difficult to treat in local medical institutions.
In daily outpatient care, we often deal with patients suffering from common infectious diseases like malaria and typhoid, as well as neglected tropical diseases such as Buruli ulcer, and recently, there has been an increase in pediatric consultations. Due to the high fertility rate in the region, many pregnant women visit for health check-ups, where ultrasounds are used not only to confirm the healthy development of the fetus but also for early detection of abnormalities and follow-up.
The clinic also accepts transfers from the region and has established a system for blood transfusion management and donation to be always ready for emergencies.
In Sierra Leone, where there is a shortage of doctors, IGPC physicians and midwives collaborate with local Community Health Officers (CHOs), midwives, nurses, and assistants to save the lives of mothers and children in a country where health indicators, especially in perinatal statistics, are extremely poor.
② Community Outreach
Merely waiting for high-risk pregnant women at the clinic is not enough to save all the women in the region who need help. Therefore, in addition to prenatal check-ups in the clinic, we conduct mobile prenatal examinations in neighboring districts.
The purpose of outreach activities is the early detection of high-risk pregnant women in neighboring districts and to ensure the safety of mothers and children through continuous care. This also strengthens visible relationships with local medical facilities, establishing a coordination system for smooth transportation to the clinic when cases requiring more advanced medical treatment occur.
The outreach covers all 47 villages in the Lugbu Chiefdom over approximately three months, visiting 1-2 villages per day twice a week and conducting prenatal check-ups for 10-20 women. During these visits, national staff provide health education to residents on hygiene, nutrition, signs of complications during pregnancy, and symptoms of malaria infection, among others. We also share the results of check-ups with local medical practitioners.
For outreach activities, we collaborate with local nurses and Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs), announce visit dates, and set up venues with the cooperation of village heads, Public Health Unit (PHU) staff, Community Health Workers (CHWs), etc.
③ National Staff Training
IGPC activities began in 2021. In the clinic, a wide range of timely services are required, including outpatient care, treatment, delivery, surgery, neonatal care, and transportation. Working in a different environment, educational background, and culture, the Japanese staff also learn about local conditions and Africa-specific diseases. At the same time, we focus on training national staff to provide effective and accurate medical care and support.
Using guidelines from the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health, WHO, MSF, etc., we plan understandable training sessions, including TOT (Training of Trainers) and OJT (On the Job Training). The high motivation and aspiration of the national staff to continue working in remote areas far from the capital provide good motivation.
IGPC supports only a small part of local health improvements. The real power to continuously improve local conditions lies with the local people themselves. IGPC is involved in creating an environment where locals can maintain and develop health even after IGPC leaves Sierra Leone.
④ AMED Clinical Trial
As part of IGPC’s vision to “Innovating for low-cost, high-quality healthcare,” research activities began in January 2023 at the Bo Government Hospital in the Bo District. With the support of the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED), we are conducting research in collaboration with Atom Medical Corporation to verify the effectiveness of simple incubators and portable respirators in improving the prognosis of newborns, mainly targeting preterm and low birth weight infants. Sierra Leone’s neonatal mortality rate is 31/1,000 live births (World Bank, 2021), significantly higher than the global average of 18/1,000 live births (UNICEF, 2021) and Japan’s 1/1,000 live births (World Bank, 2021). Improving neonatal mortality requires care for preterm infants, focusing on temperature and respiratory management. As a preliminary step, we educated national staff on the use of measurement equipment and the research process. The study plans to collect data on the continuous monitoring of oxygen saturation and body temperature of the subjects and compare data before and after intervention to verify the effectiveness of the equipment.
⑤ Study Workshops
In developed countries like Japan, it’s easy to access advanced medical care, whereas in developing countries, people struggle just to survive. However, this reality may seem distant and hard to imagine for many. Also, those involved in international aid might be perceived as special beings motivated by high ideals, making it hard for people to feel a connection.
IGPC regularly holds study workshops to disseminate information and deepen understanding of international support, maternal and child health, and international medical activities. We also connect with the activity areas and interact with IGPC physicians, nurses, and midwives working on the ground.
“Continuously learning and sharing” is IGPC’s vision.