Methods: Historical study based on interviews and reference materials. Semi-structured interviews with 16 individuals including OB/OG from the Maternal and Child Health Division of the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, related groups, researchers, and specialists. Review of relevant materials from related institutions and libraries.The research was approved by the ethics committees of the affiliated organizations.
Results: Notable regional sources of non-specialist workers in maternal and child health in Japan include “aiiku-han” from 1936 onward, “health helpers” (hoken hodouin) from about 1945 onward, and “Maternal and Child Health Promoters” after the Maternal and Child Health Law was enacted in 1965. The activities of these groups focus on local women and include comprehending the health condition of mothers and children by making home visits, promoting doctor visits, and helping with health classes and checkups. Various civic organizations related to maternal and child health were established in the 1950s. They became responsible for some non-specialist efforts in maternal and child health such as issuing bulletins and statistical data about regional governing bodies and related agencies, spreading knowledge about and advocating for maternal and child health, releasing various educational materials and guides to the general population, and supporting local residents. The number of local public health nurses began to grow rapidly when “Local Health Centers” were established in 1978. Local public health nurses and midwives were responsible for guiding these regional maternal and child health organizations and their staff as professionals and expanded efforts in maternal and child health through collaborations and partnerships.
Conclusion: The nurses and medical professionals that directly provide services needed to work together with local residents and civic groups to ensure that the maternal and child health policy of the Japanese government would be utilized by all mothers and children, that it would take root, and that it would work effectively to improve maternal and child health.
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