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Purpose of project

We aim to promote the system for visually impaired in the developing countries of Asia Pacific region to work as a specialist of the medical massage. To achieve this goal, AMIN performs the following functions; (1) Dispatching lecturers to educate local human resources who can be core persons of the activity, (2) Establishment of networks among the educated personnel to be able to cooperate and support each other across nations, (3) Improvement of educational materials for vocational education, the basis of the establishment of an occupational field, (4) Teaching the relevant computer skills.

Background

In Japan, acupuncture, moxibustion, and massage (three therapies) have been established as professions for the visually impaired for over 300 years. Moreover, once these professionals acquire a national license, they can be employed by a medical or nursing care facility, therapeutic clinic, or company; in addition, they can even start their own business practices and become economically independent.

However, in the developing countries of the Asia-Pacific region, there is virtually no profession in which visually impaired people can try and become independent. Medical massage (Note 1) is gradually being recognized as a professional skill that enables the visually impaired to compete with sighted people. Private organizations (NGOs and NPOs) and public agencies in Japan teach medical massage and provide training to instructors of medical massage.

Note 1;Medical massage As a concept, "medical massage" differs from "comfort massage" or "entertainment massage." Medical massage was originally used to refer to massages given by certified professionals who have received a certification of medical education in medical treatment as well as in the prevention of disease and disorder and who are allowed to work in medical institutions, including hospitals.

However, in developing countries, where medical resources are scarce, this term is widely used to refer to manipulative behavior equivalent to the behavior to support a healthy and comfortable public life, such as maintaining and promoting health as well as reducing fatigue and stress. It is of great significance to distinguish the term "medical massage" from "entertainment massage" which takes roots around Southeast Asia for the meaning to receive higher reputation of visually impaired socially and vocationally.

Under these circumstances, we find that it is possible for the visually impaired to be employed as professionals in the field of medical massage. However, the number of such professionals is not increasing at a rapid pace. This can be attributed to the scarcity of instructors, insufficient know-how related to teaching, and the scarcity of textbooks for teaching within the region.

The Acupuncture and Physical Therapy Teacher Training School of Tsukuba University educates physical therapy teachers for blind schools in Japan (two-year course, 20 enrollments). However, such a facility for educating instructors does not exist in the Asia-Pacific region, nor does the required curriculum. Since 2003, JICA has been offering a five-year project named "Therapeutic Massage Instructors for Visually Impaired Persons (Asia-Pacific)" (Note 2). However, the fact still remains that instructors themselves face various problems arising from the differences in each country.

Note 2: Therapeutic Massage Instructors for Visually Impaired Persons (Asia-Pacific)
This course is designed to provide the basic knowledge of medicine and the technology involved in massage, a summary of Japan's licensing system in relation to massage, and the necessary skills to manage and operate a massage facility. This course is meant to qualify instructors engaged in training the visually impaired so that they can be leaders in their home countries.

-In 2003, 8 trainees affiliated with various government agencies and the NGOs of seven countries attended a 40-day seminar as part of the preliminary training.
-In 2004, 10 trainees from 8 countries finished their training, which lasted for over 600 hours in six-month and covered topics such as basic medicine, clinical medicine, and massage skills.
-In 2005, 3 trainees from 3 countries finished their training, which lasted for over 600 hours in six-month and covered topics such as basic medicine, clinical medicine, and massage skills.
- In 2006, 1 trainee from 1 country finished their training, which lasted for over 600 hours in six-month and covered topics such as basic medicine, clinical medicine, and massage skills.
- In 2007, 5 trainees from 4 countries finished their training, which lasted for over 600 hours in six-month and covered topics such as basic medicine, clinical medicine, and massage skills.

It is necessary to establish a network between instructors of medical massage in Japan and their counterparts within the region. By using this network, problems should be solved with dispatching Japanese instructors to developing countries within the region, which instructors and people who are studying in this field may come to Japan to receive direct training in Japan or providing materials.

Target of project

There is a growing awareness within the region that medical massage is an ideal profession that can help the visually impaired become economically independent. To help spread this awareness further, people involved in medical massage in Japan deliver lectures on medical massage to the visually impaired, both at home and abroad.

These efforts are beginning to bear fruit to a certain extent. It is, however, very difficult to rapidly increase the number of instructors only by virtue of bilateral cooperation between Japan and each country in the region. We find it necessary to develop a pool of human resources that can teach medical massage and create an atmosphere that allows interested parties belonging to the two countries to teach and master medical massage skills. However, neither the number of instructors nor their teaching skills prove to be sufficient.

To solve this problem, we believe that it is necessary to establish human networks between the leaders of this field in each country within the region, allowing them to foster mutual cooperation independently, apart from receiving training from Japan.

We intend to hold meetings to establish networks and seminars on networking both at home and abroad. Moreover, we aim to establish a workshop to improve problem-solving abilities and technology. The first camp is held to set up a network between interested parties. From the second camp onwards, we intend to improve teaching skills under Japan's initiative and organize lecture meetings in Japan to work out a cooperation system that is suited to the conditions existing in each country.

Note 3;Skill improvement of guidance skill
The initial workshop will focus on improving teaching skills (Note 3), and we will add another workshop as the need arises.

In addition to improving basic and clinical medical knowledge and massage and exercise therapy skills, the workshop is designed to teach attendees information technology and the skills involved in publishing teaching materials as necessary qualifications of an instructor.

As mentioned above, we will conduct meetings that resemble workshops to establish close networks between instructors within the region. Therefore, instructors with highly developed teaching skills can better teach medical massage to the visually impaired. At the same time, we intend to establish a system that enables the mutual dispatch of lecturers for lecture meetings with regard to medical massage within the region; this system will allow them to mutually cooperate in order to publish standardized teaching materials.

In addition, we will support this network by publishing a glossary of medical massage terms and original textbooks for instructors and conducting workshops to acquire knowledge and skills to make better use of information technology.