Health for All: The Reverence for Life Movement, a Community-Based Primary Health Care Movement in Kumamoto, Japan

Thursday, 2 August 2012: 8:50 AM

Asako, T. Katsumata, PhD, ME, BA, RN1
Laurie, K. Glass, PhD, RN, FAAN2
Shannon, K. Lizer, PhD, FNP-BC1
Linda McCreary, PhD, RN3
Arlene Miller, RN, PhD, FAAN4
Mi Ja Kim, PhD, RN, FAAN3
(1)Saint Anthony College of Nursing, OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, Rockford, IL
(2)College of Nursing, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI
(3)College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
(4)College of Nursing, Rush University, Chicago, IL

Learning Objective 1: The learner will identify essential elements of Primary Health Care.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to describe the role of community engagement and social movement in promoting the health of individuals and communities.

Purpose: This historical case study provides rich descriptions of the Reverence for Life Movement (RLM) - a community-based comprehensive Primary Health Care (PHC) movement in Kumamoto, Japan, which originated in 1962.  Since the World Health Organization presented Primary Health Care in 1978, various programs were implemented throughout the world; however, community participation and inter-sectoral engagement became the weakest strands in the development of sustainable PHC. Current movement of revitalization of PHC makes it relevant to document, describe and analyze RLM, which has successfully addressed every key element of PHC.

Methods: Synthesis of historical documents and oral histories collected from the individuals who had participated in the movement.

Results: The RLM was a social movement aimed to improve health of citizens and create a new healthcare system to improve healthcare provision in Kumamoto, Japan. A notable outcome of the RLM was empowerment of public health nursing. It contributed in establishment of the Kumamoto School of Public Health Nursing in 1974. Between 1975 and 1995, the number of public health nurses in Kumamoto doubled from 258 to 521. The RML created a theoretical framework for health which encompassed healthcare, food and agriculture. With strong leadership, and diverse community engagement, RLM expanded its activities beyond the traditional healthcare framework, which later contributed in development of a comprehensive PHC movement with strong inter-sectoriality. The exercise of political empowerment revealed unanticipated skills, which in turn served the goals of the movement. Both social and individual accomplishments helped the movement both sustain itself and evolve.

Conclusion: The RLM has become a leading example of a sustainable social movement that not only empowered public health nursing, but also facilitated the health of citizens and the communities. It strengthened the infrastructure of healthcare and impacted national level policy development.