Originally written for the Vol.5-No.8 edition (November 25, 2011) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.
The haichiyaku system of medicine delivery has a history of over 300 years in Toyama. Beginning this coming January, it will be officially established as a project of the Ministry of Health of Mongolia. The program first began when the non-profit group Vansemberuu-Mongolia, supported by the philanthropic organization the Nippon Foundation, started the “Promotion of Traditional Medicine in Mongolia” project in 2004. Since then, medicine kits have been delivered to twenty thousand households (approximately 100,000 people).
Toyama’s haichiyaku system of selling medicine has a unique “Use first, pay later” feature. In this method, a full medicine kit is left in the home, and then on the medicine peddler’s next visit, they would collect payment only for the medicine that was used, and replenish the box. When the Mongolian government consulted with the Nippon Foundation in 2004 on how to improve their public health system, they turned their attention toward the haichiyaku system. After discussions with pharmaceutical businesses in Toyama and the Toyama-Mongolia Friendship Association, the haichiyaku system was put into effect in Mongolia. Twelve types of traditional Mongolian medicine such as digestive medicines and fever medicines, a medical thermometer, bandages, cotton pads, and adhesive bandages are included in each of the medicine kits. Each box is valued at approximately 10USD. Doctors and nurses deliver these to area households, and later collect payment and replenish supplies. Upon these visits, people also have the opportunity to discuss their medicine or health.
Handbooks with explanations of medicine and instructions on preventive medicine are also available, and the use of first aid and preventive medicine is spreading. The medicine kits are proving to be effective in improving and maintaining the health of Mongolians; districts report up to a 45.2 percent decrease in doctor requests from nomadic households. The Mongolian government noted the success of the program and decided to take control of it as an official government program. This will mark the first time an international cooperation project of the Nippon Foundation will be transferred into a state program. The Mongolian government plans to make deliveries to sixty thousand families within fourteen years, and aims to eventually reach all nomadic citizens (about 170,000 families).
Every year since 2006, Mongolian doctors have been visiting Toyama to study the haichiyaku system. This October, a group of fifteen Mongolians – including doctors who will be delivering medicine kits to nomadic families – visited Toyama. After training at the prefectural government, they visited clients with staff from the Mizuhashi Household Medicine Cooperative, and were able to observe how medicine delivery and payment collection is done. The Mongolian trainees also visited the University of Toyama’s Institute of Natural Medicine, Toyama Health Park, and pharmaceutical companies.
With the success of the haichiyaku system in Mongolia, other countries – Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Laos – have started or are planning to start implementing similar programs as well.
Source (article and photo): Toyama Just Now