WKC Launched New Research Initiative for UHC and Ageing Populations - Lessons learned from Japan to the World

People throughout the world are living longer, healthier lives. Today, most people can expect to live into their sixties and beyond. By 2050, the world’s population aged 60 years and older is expected to reach 2 billion, up from 900 million in 2015.

Japan has long been a front runner leading the world enabling its people to live long healthy lives. Many lessons from Japan can be adapted for other countries and their health systems to enable them to learn from Japan’s experience in facing powerful and transforming demographic forces.

Last year, the WHO Centre of the Health Development (WHO Kobe Centre) called for proposals from Japan-based research institutions for implementation research to promote sustainable Universal Health Coverage (UHC) enabling functional ability for older persons, and to identify lessons that can contribute to other countries’ efforts.

WHO Kobe Centre is pleased to announce that following five research projects have been selected through a rigorous competitive process, and have been successfully launched.

Dr Sarah Louise Barber, Director of the WHO Kobe Centre says ”This research focuses on documenting and evaluating the policies and technologies in Japan. We hope that such experiences will provide useful lessons for other countries facing the same challenges. ”

Dr Fumihiro Tajima, Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Wakayama Medical University and Dr Aiko Yamamoto, Professor, Research Institute of Nursing Care for People and Community, University of Hyogo will be participating the WHO Kobe Centre New Research Forum on April 7.

- Alphabetical order by PI's last name

Experiences of Assistive Products Use among Older People in Japan

Dr Misato Nihei, Lecturer, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo

The use of assistive products can reduce the effects of several types of impairment, allowing older people to live more comfortably at home and remain active and engaged members of society. The very old population of Japan offers a unique source of information about the use of assistive products in later life. In this study, we will conduct a survey of non-institutionalized individuals, 90 years old and above, about their experiences with assistive products. The aim is to provide important insights to service providers in Japan and globally about strategies for the optimal provision of assistive products to older populations.

New assistive technologies to enhance quality of life of older people

Dr Fumihiro Tajima, Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Wakayama Medical University

Sustained activities of daily living (ADL) and quality of life (QOL) are vital issues for the older people. This research is a joint project among five universities in the Kansai Region and will contribute to a new strategy for high ADL and QOL of older persons by a) using a novel algorithm to quantify the physical activities that maintain ADL from electromyogram signals of the femoral muscles, b) using a novel wearable accelerometer to establish the risk of specific physical activities or postures on the frequency of falls, and c) assessing the activity levels of inpatients to define the ideal activity level for better outcomes of rehabilitation therapy.

Evidence for improving health care provision to ensure universal health coverage amid rapid population ageing in Japan

Dr Shinichi Tomioka, Assistant Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Japan (UOEH)

The goal of this study is to contribute to future health policy and epidemiological research for sustainable universal health coverage (UHC) amid rapid population ageing in Japan. The study will analyse large-scale health care data from Japan including Diagnosis Procedure Combination (DPC) data, medical reimbursement receipts and the Japanese Surveillance in Post-Extreme Emergencies and Disasters (J-SPEED). The aim is to provide evidence that will guide more efficient, equitable and cost-effective health care delivery in Japan at the primary and secondary care levels spanning four domains: 1) outpatient care, 2) home care, 3) disaster health care, and 4) acute hospital care.

ICF-based assessment tool development for care skill training in Japanese long-term care system

Dr Takako Tsutsui, Professor, Graduate school of Business, University of Hyogo

An increasing number of countries are facing the problem of population ageing, which is putting continuous stress on long-term care. The situation is particularly alarming in East Asia, where the demand for care workers is expected to at least double by 2050. Thus, a training system for long-term care staffs that supports universal health coverage is needed. To address shortages in long-term care workers, Japan has developed a “Technical Intern Training Programme”. This study focuses on the Technical Intern Training Programme, and aims to develop tools to evaluate the process of transferring care skills to foreign trainees. The study will also examine the possibility of utilizing the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) to apply existing tools to other countries.

Development of Specific Care Strategies to Maintain and Recover Survivors’ Health after Disasters

Dr Aiko Yamamoto, Professor, Research Institute of Nursing Care for People and Community, University of Hyogo

The increasing scale and frequency of disasters has put priority on the mitigation of disaster risk and impact, with special attention to the health of vulnerable populations. This research project contains two projects. Project 1 will identify fundamental needs, challenges of vulnerable survivors (older populations) through a qualitative analysis of personal interviews. Project 2 will evaluate therapeutic programmes for survivors’ mental states. Effective implementation of preventive interventions for public health and social service workers in the disaster-affected communities will also be considered. The research results of the two projects will provide fundamental data for future disaster risk management projects and policies for vulnerable populations.