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The Medical Efforts Made by Nagasaki University in Africa, Spanning Over Half of a Century

1964 marks the first year in which Nagasaki University dispatched medical staff to Africa. Since then, for more than half a century, Nagasaki University has been continuously providing medical aid. The university currently has an overseas research station in Kenya, located in Middle Africa, where the faculty reside. In an ongoing effort to continue to help and support Africa, the station has expanded its projects involving medicine, human resource development, engineering, and fisheries.

Field Studies in Africa Begin (1964 – present day)
Dr. Kaoru Hayashi, a member of The Research Institute of Endemics, currently known as The Institute of Tropical Medicine, was the first faculty member to venture to Africa. Dr. Hayashi later went on to become a professor at The Institute of Tropical Medicine and in 1964 visited Tanzania as a member of the “African Anthropoid Academic Investigation” for the purpose of researching viral infectious diseases. Then, in 1965, Professor Daisuke Katamine, along with three colleagues, spent four months conducting research on malaria and filariasis.

Departure ceremony for the East African Academic Research Team (July 14, 1965 at Nagasaki Station) Prof. Katamine conducting outdoor medical checkups on Tanzanian locals
Pathogen research on samples collected from specimen The Nagasaki University medical van on its way to the outback of Tanzania

The Lion Standing in the Wind: Official Medical Technology Cooperation in Kenya (1966 – present day)
The research done in 1964 was the catalyst for receiving Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Japanese government in 1966, which allowed seven researchers of viruses, bacteria, and parasites to study in Africa for nine months. After hearing of their research activities, the Overseas Technical Cooperation Agency (now known as JICA), offered to team up with Nagasaki University to form a medical corporation at the Rift Valley Province General Hospital in Kenya. Over the course of ten years, Nagasaki University dispatched a total of 83 doctors, nurses, and medical technologists to the hospital.

In 1972, the Nagasaki Broadcasting Company (NBC) filmed and broadcasted a documentary called “Daktari Kjapani” (which translates to “Japanese Doctor”). Masashi Sada then composed a song and wrote a novel about Dr. Shibata, who took part in the project, titled “The Lion Standing in the Wind.” In 2015, the novel was adapted into a film starring Takao Osawa.

Dr. Hara and Nurse Oota making their rounds The surgical staff and Dr. Tanaka
Dr. Shibata, upon whom the movie was based Dr. Tokorozawa instructing on how to make test-samples
(“Daktari Kjapani” NBC)
Dr. Harada taking blood samples from locals’ earlobes who are infected with filariasis, a disease that can only be found in Africa Dr. Harada examining microfilaria samples

Technical Cooperation with Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and Infectious Disease Research (1979 – present day)
Nagasaki University, in a medical cooperation with JICA toward supporting Africa, shifted its efforts to form a new cooperative relationship with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), which was established to lead medical care in Kenya.

Since 1979, Nagasaki University has been dispatching various experts to Kenya, including virologists, bacteriologists, parasitologists, and hepatologists. The University has played a pivotal role in improving KEMRI as a research education institute, and has been a positive force in promoting and improving infection control measures throughout Kenya.

Dr. Aoki engages in educational activities with locals about schistosome control measures Prof. Kimura and Prof. Mgambi doing quantitative research on cercaria found in the water
Asst. Sato doing quantitative research on cercaria found in the water Asst. Sato performing mass treatment of schistosome

Establishment of the Nagasaki University Kenya Research Station / Cooperation that Surpassed the Framework of Medical Care (2005 – present day)
Nagasaki University’s long-term commitment and contributions to Kenya have been acknowledged. In 2005, the Nagasaki University Kenya Research Station was built on KEMRI property.

One leader, two researchers, four administrators, and 87 Kenyan students/staff work at the station. Since the establishment of the station, the university has been conducting not only studies on infectious diseases, but also research on oral health, freshwater fish breeding, processed fish food, water quality examinations, lakes’ self-cleansing mechanism, and has even conducted robotic competitions as part of tis robotics technical development field.

Also in Guinea, the university is developing a quick diagnosis method of Ebola hemorrhagic fever. In South Africa, Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria, the university is building an early warning system for infection epidemics along with an epidemic surveillance system. In other countries in Africa, the University is conducting a bridge infrastructure management study and an African culture study. The university is expanding its activities in Africa.

The front of the renovated Kenyan Station (2012) Prof. Morita conducting experiment education at a KEMRI branch in Alupe (2011)
Filming “The Lion Standing in the Wind” (2015) The building used as a model for the station in the film
Filming at the station (2006) Prof. Shimada conducting a dental checkup in Kenya (2014)
Asst. Prof. Yo producing diagnostic test kits for the Rift Valley fever in Kenya (2017) Nile perch in Lake Victoria
Dr. Helen Marshal, who received her PhD from Nagasaki University, joins the project as a local researcher and studies various aquaculture technologies on Nile perch in Lake Victoria (2015) Prof. Itayama (Faculty of Engineering) considers an installation site for the lake water purification system in Kenya
The lake water purification system that was installed by the Faculty of Engineering in Lake Victoria (2016)  
Prof. Kiyasu, Assoc. Prof. Shibata, and Prof. Sakaguchi who supported the robotic competition held by the Ministry of Education of Kenya and served as judges (2015) Prof. Kiyasu, Assoc. Prof. Shibata, and Prof. Sakaguchi who supported the robotic competition held by the Ministry of Education of Kenya and served as judges (2015)
Assoc. Prof. Nishikawa advises on bridge maintenance in Zimbabwe (2016) Assoc. Prof. Nishikawa visits the bridge which was built by ODA of Japan in Tunisia (2017)
Asst. Prof. Sato (TMGH) joining a project on supporting midwife care with JOICFP in Zambia (2017) Students (SGHSS) conduct field research on farm management with a focus on cultivating rice in Zanzibar, Tanzania (2017)