In the developed countries including Japan, malignant tumor (cancer), heart disease and cerebral apoplexy are major causes of death, but infectious diseases still responsible for high mortality in the developing countries, especially for children less than 5 years of age. World Health Statistics published by WHO indicates a high percentage of mortality from infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, diarrhea, measles, malaria and pneumonia in children of South and Southeast Asian and African countries (World Health Statistics 2014, World Health Organization). Many of these infectious diseases have the potential for borderless transmission and invasion to Japan.
Given this situation, Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) introduced Phase I of a program “Founding Research Centers for Emerging and Reemerging Infectious Diseases,” running from fiscal 2005 to 2009 and involving 8 Japanese universities and 2 Japanese research centers. The program was established to:
1) Create of a domestic research structure to promote the accumulation of fundamental knowledge about infectious diseases,
2) Set up 13 overseas research collaboration centers in 8 countries at high risk of emerging and reemerging infections, Japanese researchers are stationed at these centers, where they conduct research in partnership with overseas instructors,
3) Develop a network among domestic and overseas research centers,
4) Develop human resources.
The program, supervised by MEXT, and managed by the RIKEN Center of the Research Network for Infectious Diseases (Riken CRNID). Dr. Yoshiyuki Nagai, Program Director (PD), heads CRNID and is organizing the program.
Phase II of the program was set up as the Japan Initiative for the Global Research Network on Infectious Diseases (J-GRID) and was established for fiscal 2010-2014.
Participating universities, institutes and countries in J-GRID are as follows:
Hokkaido University : Zambia
Tohoku University : Philippines
The University of Tokyo : China
Tokyo Medical and Dental University : Ghana
Osaka University : Thailand
Kobe University : Indonesia
Okayama University : India
Nagasaki University : Vietnam Kenya (Associate*)
Niigata University : Myanmar (Associate*)
National Center for Global Health and Medicine : Vietnam
National Institute of Animal Health : Thailand
*Two associate members were involved in 2011.
Each university and institute set up its collaborative research center in a country and conducts research on infectious diseases, especially typical regional diseases. The program’s outcome of each collaborative center is announced by the publication of various research papers or outreach programs, such as open lectures for citizens, and so on. The Asian-African Research Forum (AARF) on Infectious Disease organized by J-GRID is dedicated to reporting and discussing the research results of the collaborative research centers.
Details and activities of J-GRID can be seen at http://www.crnid.riken.jp/jgrid/. The Figs. 1 and 2 show examples of the home page indicating the countries and the collaborative research institutes involved.
J-GRID publishes the magazine entitled “Monthly CRNID,” which is available by mail upon request to “https://krs.bz/crnid/m?f=2&m=1110&t=8cdk&v=076691d2.” This publication contains various topical information on infectious diseases, such as research papers, newly announced news from WHO, overseas trip news, domestic infections, new drug developments, explanations, events, etc.
Phase II will terminate on March 2015 (the end of FY 2014), and Phase III will begin in April 2015 at the start of the new FY.
This special issue on J-GRID is being edited on the occasion of the final year of Phase II. The outlines ….
J-GRID is an undertaking to enhance international research collaboration across national borders, which has been commissioned by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) to Japanese universities and research institutions. The undertaking includes the construction of bilateral collaboration centers in the counterpart countries and their networking. As the headquarters of this network, Center of Research Network for Infectious Diseases (CRNID) was set up at RIKEN. Since its initiation in 3 countries in FY2005, J-GRID has expanded to include 13 research collaboration centers in 8 countries (6 in Asia and 2 in Africa). J-GRID was highly appreciated as an ideal model of Japan’s science and technology diplomacy and an important platform to mitigate the risk of infectious diseases in the counterpart countries, our own country and the world. Recently, the Japanese government decided to create a new funding and managing body named Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED), which is expected to start in 2015. The AMED selected 9 special topics of high priority. One of them is “The Control of Emerging and Reemerging Infectious Diseases” and J-GRID is expected to enhance research capacity and make a great deal of contribution in this scheme. Here, I look back on the 10 years journey of J-GRID development since its initiation and discuss the future perspective.
The Collaborative Research Center for Infectious Disease of Okayama University in India (CRCOUI) is located at the NICED (National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases) in Kolkata, India. The main CRCOUI research project involves measure against diarrheal diseases based on JICA project conducted at the NICED. Specifically, this involved four study themes: (1) Active surveillance of diarrheal patients, (2) Development of dysentery vaccine, (3) Viable but nonculturable (VBNC) Vibrio cholerae, (4) Pathogenic mechanism of various diarrhogenic microorganisms. Diarrheal diseases are a major health problem in developing countries, so our project confirmed the detection system of diarrhogenic microorganisms including bacteria, viruses and protozoa. Project have been applied the system at 2 hospitals in Kolkata. To spread system use to other countries, training courses were conducted for researchers and technicians from the Vietnam and Indonesia Research Center, then similar active surveillance was started in both countries.
The Thailand-Japan Research Collaboration Center on Emerging and Re-emerging Infections (RCC-ERI) was established in 2005 by the Research Institute for Microbial Diseases (RIMD), Osaka University, in collaboration with the National Institute of Health (NIH), Department of Medical Sciences (DMSc), Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), Thailand. This was initiated based on the recognition that, with today’s highly developed transportation networks including those between Japan and Thailand, infectious disease outbreak and transmission are no longer limited to a single country. Indeed, such diseases are likely to be transmitted immediately to a third country. This makes it essential to cooperate globally in exchanging information fast and often. A dozen Japanese researchers are working regularly at RCC-ERI, where they conduct joint research with Thai researchers on bacterial and viral infectious diseases prevailing in Thailand that could conceivably affect Japan. Examples of such diseases include cholera, meningitis with Streptococcus suis, AIDS, chikungunya fever, and dengue fever. Conducting long-term research in other countries often reveals gaps in perception due to differences in national laws and regulations, in rules and operating customs within research institutions, in economic and cultural backgrounds, and in values and ways of thinking among individual researchers. RCC-ERI is being operated as fine adjustments are made to achieve maximum productivity and developing human resources. Some of the many researchers stationed at the Center faced unpredicted situations such as social chaos due to political instability or evacuation due to flooding and had to take emergency response measures. In this article, we cover aspects related to these experiences.
In Japanese fiscal 2005, the Institute of Medical Science of the University of Tokyo (IMSUT) launched joint laboratory in each Institute of Biophysics (IBP) and Institute of Microbiology (IM) of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. Japanese investigators have resided in Beijing and been working together with young Chinese scientists. As the principal investigator of the joint laboratory in IBP, Dr. Zene Matsuda have focused on the membrane fusion process in HIV-1 infection and invented a remarkable assay system to be used for the analysis of the membrane fusion. Dr. Yoshihiro Kitamura started the joint laboratory in IM and handed to Dr. Takaomi Ishida. The research in IM has focus on the epidemiology and molecular biology of HIV-1 and hepatitis viruses. The research in Beijing has been supervised by Dr. Tadashi Yamamoto and then by Dr. Junichiro Inoue. Highly productive collaboration between Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka and Dr. Hualan Chen has been producing cutting edge outcomes in the research on highly pathogenic avian viruses and their molecular epidemiology in China. The whole schema of the collaboration between Japan and China has been led by Dr. Aikichi Iwamoto.
The Institute of Tropical Medicine, of Nagasaki University (ITM) and the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Vietnam (NIHE), have been jointly conducting a joint project since 2005 on emerging and reemerging infectious diseases under a grant from the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Technology (MEXT) of Japan. A Vietnam research station established on the NIHE campus has been the site of a number of research activities. Project for clarifying environmental and social factors affecting outbreaks of zoonosis, vector-borne infectious diseases, diarrhoea, and childhood pneumonia have been conducted within a collaborative project framework. Having achieved the goals set or research in the project’s first phase (from 2005 to 2009), the next objectives have been underlined, clarifying the factors and mechanisms causing infectious diseases. Four groups were established to answer these research questions, i.e., diarrhoea, vector-borne disease, clinical epidemiology, and zoonosis. These groups have conducted 15 independent activities. To conduct projects on a higher level, cooperation has been established with three Vietnamese governmental research institutions and with JICA-supported national hospitals. The outcome of such activities is expected to contribute greatly to promoting public health and improving medical care.
The Institute of Tropical Medicine Kenya Research Station of Nagasaki University (NUITM) was established in 2005 with Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) funds. The station involves clinical and epidemiological research programs focusing on tropical medicine and emerging infectious diseases based on education and research exchanges between Africa and Japan. This project is supported by about 22 Japanese staff members, including short-termers, in addition to 85 Kenyan staff members. It has at least 12 research groups studying the prevention of tropical and emerging diseases in collaboration with stakeholder institutions. The station also implements a JICA grassroots technical cooperation project since 2012. In April 2010, the Nagasaki University Africa Research Station was incorporated into the Kenya Research Station, enabling other faculties to conduct research in Kenya. The Nagasaki University School of Dentistry then started an oral health survey in Mbita and the Schools of Fisheries, Engineering, and Health Sciences have started joint research projects conserving and managing Lake Victoria basin water and fishery resources. Our aim is to develop a foundation enabling researchers from all different fields to conduct research for improving local community health and living standards. The NUITM was invited to become an associate member of the Japan Initiative for Global Research Network on Infectious Diseases (J-GRID) in 2011.
A research collaboration project in Ghana has joined the MEXT program supported by the Japanese government since 2008. The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), the University of Ghana, and Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) are core parties in the project, and researchers from other institutions also participate temporarily. Two TMDU faculty members are sent to Ghana to manage and implement joint research projects for virology and parasitology, which cover HIV, African trypanosomes, malaria parasites, and vector insects. Along with joint research, mutual exchange activities for young researchers and students have been promoted to develop human resources in tropical infectious disease research. Subjects in our project are all public health concerns both in Ghana and West-Africa and in other parts of the world. Our joint projects have strengthened and promoted global information networks on infectious diseases and the health and welfare of the residents of Ghana and Japan.
The Hokkaido University Research Center for Zoonosis Control (CZC) established the Hokudai Center for Zoonosis Control in Zambia (HUCZCZ) at the School of Veterinary Medicine, the University of Zambia, in 2007 to control zoonotic diseases in the areas of South Africa, where various emerging infectious diseases have occurred. The CZC promotes epidemiological studies and basic researches of infectious diseases caused by viruses, protozoa, and bacteria by using the biosafety level 3 facility in the HUCZCZ. This article introduces research activities of the HUCZCZ in Zambia.
In the six years since the Tohoku-RITM Collaborating Research Center was established, the center has been working on major infectious diseases in the Philippines and conducting molecular and epidemiological studies from a public health perspective. Its target diseases include pneumonia, diarrhea, and rabies, which are a major public health problem in the Philippines. Some studies have also been conducted on emerging and re-emerging infections significantly impacting both on the Philippines and on other countries. In November 2013, typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) hit the Visayas, where one of our research areas is located. The center responded immediately and helped assess and diagnose infectious diseases, based on our experience of Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.
The Center for Infectious Diseases (CID), Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine, has led an Asia-related medical research program for over 50 years. The Japan Initiative for Global Research Network on Infectious Diseases (J-GRID) established the Indonesia-Kobe University Collaborative Research Center for Emerging and Reemerging Infectious Diseases (CRC-FRID), which is staffed by Japanese researchers from the CID, Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine, and Indonesian researchers from the Institute of Tropical Disease (ITD) of Airlangga University, Surabaya, Indonesia. There they focus on five disease types – influenza, infectious hepatitis, dengue fever, HIV/AIDS, and infectious diarrheal diseases – in collaborative research. This paper summarizes research results for these 5 diseases as published in previous papers.
The National Center for Global Health and Medicine at J-GRID’s bases in Vietnam studies healthcare-associated infections caused by multiple-drug-resistant bacteria, which have become an issue in southeast Asian countries. As a pilot study in a single facility, we retrospectively investigated blood culture status and results. From reports over the four years from 2009 to 2012, we counted 45,366 blood cultures. The sampling frequency was 9.59 blood cultures per 1,000 patient-days. Blood culture results in 2009 showed that 16 samples (1.3%) tested positive for Pseudomonas aeruginosa and 37 (3.0%) for Acinetobacter sp., two strains known to often cause medical infections. This study showed the possibility of obtaining the appropriate number of blood cultures and characteristic of isolated bacteria in Vietnam in the future.
We have been studying the swine influenza virus (SIV) in Thailand since 2005, followed by a study in Vietnam starting in 2010. We actively survey pig farms in both countries to isolate viruses, collecting nasal swabs mainly from clinically healthy pigs. Our results demonstrate the genetic diversity of the SIV in both countries and help fill gaps in knowledge in global molecular SIV epidemiology.
The epidemiological study of influenza in Southeast Asia is limited. We surveyed influenza in Myanmar from 2007 to 2013. Nasopharyngeal swabs were collected from patients in the two cities of Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw. Samples were screened using rapid influenza diagnostic kits and identified by virus isolation. Isolates were characterized by cycling-probe-based real-time PCR, drug susceptibility assay, and sequencing. Samples collected numbered 5,173, from which 1,686 influenza viruses were isolated during the seven-year study period. Of these, 187 strains were of seasonal influenza A(H1N1), 274 of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, 791 of influenza A(H3N2), and 434 of influenza B. Interestingly, two zanamivir and amantadine-resistant strains each were detected in 2007 and 2008. These rare dual-resistant strains had a Q136K mutation in the NA protein and S31N substitution in the M2 protein. Our collaboration raised the influenza surveillance laboratory capacity in Myanmar and led Yangon’s National Health Laboratory – one of the nation’s leading research institutes – to being designated a National Influenza Center by the World Health Organization.
The March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake seriously damaged industries in affected areas. Since then, the need to enhance corporate disaster resilience has risen to the top of management agendas. Business continuity plans (BCPs) are a high-priority task in establishing a company’s capabilities of quickly resuming key businesses within a preplanned time. Surveys indicate, however, that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are behind in attaining disaster preparedness. We surveyed 100 motivated SMEs that took part in BCP implementation workshops. This review found two different stages – the first for implementing BCPs and the second for embedding BCPs. This survey indicated that 97% of SMEs taking part had implemented BCPs but only 40% had actually embedded them, and 30% had not embedded them. BCPs were implemented at a president’s instruction, but BCP embedding actually required additional factors related to employees and the company’s organizational environment. This review also found that the benefits of BCPs were becoming increasingly clear among companies that had implemented BCPs. It should be noted that BCP advantages are perceived in boarder fields of normal business operations by the surveyed companies that embedded BCP than companies that are not successful in embedding. This indicates those BCP should be implemented and embedded in the way that such normal business operation advantages would be perceived by companies and their members.
Flood features were analyzed and risk knowledge was examined in studies in selected river basins of Southeast Asia. Rainfall runoff features were analyzed in Indonesia’s Solo river basin and in the Philippines’ Pampanga and Cagayan river basins using ground-observed and satellite-based (GSMaP) rainfall data. Flood damage was assessed for risk management by considering physical damage to agricultural and household in the Cambodian flood plain of the Lower Mekong Basin and in the Philippines’s Pampanga river basin. A comparison of simulated and observed runoff hydrographs showed that the accuracy of GSMaP rainfall in the Solo and Cagayan river basins in studied flood events was lower than in the Pampanga river basin case. In the Pampanga and Cagayan river basins, the density of rainfall station networks was below the WMO recommendation, and GSMaP rainfall data would be more effective in getting supplementary information for existing flood-forecasting systems for these river basins. Physical damage to households including residential assets and agricultural damage were estimated quantitatively based on flood features. The estimated value of agricultural and house damage was fairly consistent with reported values. Reliable flood damage data are important for developing flood damage functions and for confirming such estimation. Uncertainties associated with input data, model parameters, and damage information strongly influence the damage estimated. These uncertainties must be considered carefully in flood risk assessment models.
This research investigated the educational benefits of improving students’ performance associated with two types of teaching used in integrated disaster prevention lessons. Our research, experimental in nature, applied a pretest/posttest control group design. The research sample consisted of 89 students in grade 5 at two primary schools near the Merapi volcano, which is under the Sleman regency of Yogyakarta Special Region Province, Indonesia. Students were classified into experimental and control groups. Using the same lesson content, delivered by one of our researchers, the experimental group was taught through discussions and the control group was taught through lectures. Findings showed that lectures improved two viewpoints in students’ knowledge – one regarding appropriate action taken while indoors during a big earthquake and the other about consequences of a big earthquake regarding a residential fire. Student viewpoints regarding their awareness of living in a disaster-prone area were also found to have improved through the use of lectures. Discussions were found to be helpful in improving only one viewpoint of students’ knowledge about appropriate actions while indoors during a big earthquake. Study results suggest that efforts should be made to develop effective education in volcanic disaster at school focusing on changes in students’ knowledge, attitude, and behavior.
Communication is a primary challenge in response to natural and man-made disasters. The purpose of this study is to determine the forms of communications that played a critical role in disaster preparedness during the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami (Tohoku earthquake). The study used a case study research method and included six informants following the purposive sampling technique. Data was collected through unstructured in-depth interviews. The findings suggest that communication in all forms played a vital role in disaster preparedness. In the survivor’s view, however, the impact of broadcast media in establishing situational awareness was limited. Local disaster management efforts, such as, “on call,” or emergency measures, such as, personnel and trucks with communication systems, mobile phone alarms, and sirens were viewed by survivors as useful in transmitting unambiguous, specific messages in a demanding tsunami context. In particular, the study demonstrates that residents’ trust in risk/disaster related messages and mediums play vital roles in subsequent behaviour/response to natural disasters.
Disaster Risk Management (DRM) laws and policies ideally contain measures to reduce disaster risk to all exposed people equally, even the most vulnerable people. To investigate this, we estimate the number of potentially vulnerable people in areas exposed to flood hazard, and evaluate the laws and policies which aim to reduce vulnerability. We proposed a theoretical framework based on four recognized characteristics of vulnerability (less physically or mentally capable; fewer material and/or financial resources; less access to information, and restricted by commitments) and created indicators for six groups of potentially vulnerable people: children, older adults, minorities, people with disabilities, people living in poverty, and women. We applied the framework to the populations of Japan, the Netherlands, and the United States, and proposed a new DRM policy evaluation method; and found that measures in DRM laws and policies are not in proportion to the number of potentially vulnerable people. The most numerous indicators included children aged 0-14, women with no car, and people with pets. The top ten indicators account for 80% of all potentially vulnerable people. When addressing the needs of vulnerable people from a policy perspective, these top ten indicators may serve as a starting point in order to increase the resilience of the vulnerable population. Seven of these ten are identical across the three case study countries, meaning the countries can learn from each other’s measures and possibly apply them in their own area. Policy evaluation showed that while many laws and policies do recognize various groups of potentially vulnerable people, they lack detailed support measures. Much remains to be amended in policies on all scale levels if the policies are to realize an equal disaster risk for all exposed people.