Japanese Crown Prince Akishino and Crown Princess Akishino are currently visiting Finland. During their visit, the Crown Prince and Princess visited Iso Omena Health Centre in Espoo on Thursday 4 July, to learn more about the Finnish maternity and child health clinic system.
Akishino became the Crown Prince in April this year, and this is his first official visit abroad in this new role according to Helsingin Sanomat.
“We are honoured to have such esteemed guests in Espoo. I am happy to show our guests the Iso Omena Service Centre and Iso Omena Health Centre. Service Centre combines many services that families need, and it is not only a result of persevering work but also a good example of how we develop the services in Espoo for our citizens and our customers,” Mayor of Espoo Jukka Mäkelä said of the visit.
During the visit to Iso Omena, the Finnish maternity and child health clinic system was presented to the royals, and they were able to sit in on an actual visit to the clinic.
"I am happy that the high quality of the Finnish health care system has been noted abroad and that there is interest in the preventive work that we do for the children and families," said Sanna Svahn, Director of Health Services after the visit.
The Finnish system is unique by international standards, and the Japanese have also shown interest in it during earlier meetings.
"The basis for our system dates back to the 1920's, and today we have the lowest rates in infant mortality in the world. I am happy that we have such talented personnel that can make this possible, said Svahn.
Minna Eväsoja, a health care professional from Espoo, visited the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Tokyo in March to talk about the subject with doctors and other health care professionals.
"There is a complete lack of an early intervention model and preventive work in Japan. People there only visit a nurse or doctor when they have to, and that is why the Finnish maternity and child health clinic model based on prevention and voluntary visits is something quite different for them," Eväsoja says.
During Eväsoja’s visit to Japan, local health care professionals were intrigued by the long treatment relationships in the Finnish health care system.
"In Finland, we get to know the child and the family at the clinic, and then later on in school health care, which allows the nurse to notice if there is something amiss with the child or the family," Eväsoja says.
From left to right: Mayor Jukka Mäkelä, Crown Prince Akishino, Crown Princess Akishino, Minna Eväsoja and Director of Health Services Sanna Svahn