Yangyel Lhaden 

Associate Professor Dr Yoriko Nishizawa of Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan (KGUMSB) was awarded an incentive award at the 17th Nakasone Yasuhiro award ceremony in Tokyo, Japan.

KGUMS celebrated the recognition in Thimphu on December 30. The event was attended by Health Minister Dechen Wangmo, the chairperson of the governing council of the university, and other dignitaries.

Dr Yoriko Nishizawa came to Bhutan in 2011. She served as neonatologist at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) and has been an Associate Professor at KGUMSB since 2015. She is also a recipient of the National Order of Merit Silver in 2017 from His Majesty The King.

According to a press release from KGUMSB, Dr Yoriko Nishizawa has made significant contributions to improve the medical welfare system particularly in the areas of maternal and child health in Bhutan.

“She has contributed in many capacities as well as policy development activities under the Reproductive, Maternal, and Newborn Health Programme such as Early Essential Newborn Care, Bhutan Every Newborn Action Plan, and the Maternal and Child Handbook.”

University officials said that owing to her initiatives at JDWNRH, several evidence-based neonatal services have been initiated and established, such as the Kangaroo Mother Care for preterm infants, high risk follow-up clinic, and acute management of severe birth asphyxia, instituted simulation-based training at the point care for patient safety, and led the first Quality Improvement (QI) project in the country, among other initiatives.

She also promoted and liaised links not only between individuals and institutes in Japan but also in India. Several Bhutanese doctors and nurses had the opportunity to visit Japan and India for capacity building in neonatal care.

Dr Nishizawa said that she is maintaining the same level of devotion to serve the people of Bhutan as she was in Japan.

“No matter what nationality or ideology we have, at the end of the day, we all are the same, humankind, and I am always grateful for the opportunity to serve humanity beyond my nationality,” she said.

She said that 10 years’ service in Bhutan was full of struggles, failures, and hesitancy, being a foreigner but she could overcome those obstacles with help from her seniors and colleagues at the University, which was why she decided to donate the prize money to KGUMSB.

“I consider this award has been given not for my success as an individual but also for all of those who trusted and supported me so far,” Dr Nishizawa said.

Dr Nishizawa donated her prize money value of 500,000 Japanese Yen, equivalent to Nu 325,000, to the university.

President of KGUMSB Dr K.P Tshering said that the prize money would be kept as seed money for the President Fund and would be used by the university to annually recognise the most deserving employees of the university for their hard work, dedication, and significant contribution to the university and nation as a whole.

The Nakasone Yasuhiro Award was established in 2004 to recognise young people who are ‘actively and boldly working’ on global issues such as creating a new international order, building regional economic cooperation systems, overcoming hunger and poverty, responding to pandemics, severe disasters, and environmental and energy issues.