A pressing concern for Japan is the need to reduce the amount of money the government has to spend on medical costs. One way that this can be done is to help people maintain good health after retirement.
To support this goal, Otsuka has been working together with local governments, firms, and organizations across Japan to help keep people fit and healthy, with a particular focus upon specific regional problems.
In July of 2019, Otsuka joined forces with the city of Mima in Tokushima Prefecture and the pro soccer team from the area, Tokushima Vortis, to run the first Vortis Conditioning Program. The aim of this is to help citizens establish new exercise habits so as to improve their motor function, and through this reduce the likelihood of their requiring treatment in the future. By doing so, care costs can be reduced, relieving some of the financial burden on society.
This initiative made use of a Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry supported social impact bond (SIB) framework. SIBs are outcome-based contracts where private funds are used for initiatives that address social challenges, and governmental departments then later reimburse or subsidize the costs according to the program's level of success. This project is particularly exciting as it is the first SIB in a healthcare field involving a pro soccer team.
A total of 1,800 members of the public will participate in the program over the next five years. Participants will attend weekly group training sessions with Tokushima Vortis coaches for eight weeks, as well as exercising at home at least once a week. The program will introduce the participants to a new exercise routine, and all daily physical activities will be tracked using a wearable device. The hope is that the program will help alleviate physical problems often suffered, such as those related to the hips, joints, and overall posture. After training, participants will be given a pack of Bodymainté Jelly, a lactic acid and protein supplement to support good physical condition, and receive useful nutritional information from a registered dietitian.
Participants in the first course commented that they were able to complete the exercises in about 30 minutes in their own homes, making it very easy to do. They also felt that the program had helped improve their physical condition, including their posture and problems such as stiff shoulders.
Otsuka firmly believes that good health requires attention to body, mind, and relationships with other people, and we are committed to helping nurture a healthy society by taking a holistic approach at a community level. We will continue to provide a wide range of opportunities to help people improve their well-being today, and through this contribute to the long-term health and happiness of society as a whole.