NPO Aims to Bring Traditional Japanese Medicine Marketing to Africa
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Eri Machii, a 37-year-old pharmacist, hopes a traditional Japanese method of marketing medicine will take off in Africa and help improve health care.
The method is called okigusuri, in which a sales representative brings a variety of medicines to a client’s home without requiring any deposit or advance payment. The medicines are stored in a free box given to the client.
Clients have no obligation to buy any of them but pay only for what they have used when the sales representative comes around the next time. The representative then restocks the box.
Machii thought of introducing the “use first, pay later” system, which originated in the late 17th century in what is now Toyama Prefecture, because of a bitter experience she had when working in Niger in 2008 as a volunteer dispatched by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
She was teaching the importance of infection prevention to residents of a village in the West African country. One day, a young mother asked her for money for the treatment of her boy, who had a high fever, at a hospital.
Machii turned down the request, feeling that giving money was not a fundamental solution to health care problems in Niger, where the average life expectancy is just over 50 years. The boy died a month later.