Eliminating malaria, one of the world's three major infectious diseases, is one of the overarching global challenges. As such, a multi-layered approach is being taken in which the WHO takes a coordinating role in setting master goals and strategies, based on which national and state governments in each country draw up concrete policies on how medical professionals should diagnose and treat malaria. To introduce the diagnostic device developed by Sysmex to the market, we had to start by actively working on the massive global network forming the base of the market to convince them of the importance of the new devices from Sysmex.
"We focused on building good relationships with malaria-related organizations and key opinion leaders, and of course communicating with WHO officials. Not many of them knew of this Japanese company named Sysmex, and the reality was that nothing could be done overnight. Before we even began to talk about the product, we needed to earn their trust in a somewhat roundabout way, telling them who we are and what we are doing. I must say, the fact that Sysmex has built a sales and service network that covers more than 190 countries and regions around the world is a major strength. Having the solid backing of a proven business gives us serious credentials in the malaria business," Takeuchi said.
The conventional approach of visiting hospitals and testing facilities individually to sell newly-developed products did not suffice, and no one had the "right" answer. Yet, Takeuchi managed to carve out a path through multiple rounds of trials and errors. She shared with us one episode that she said became a driving force for her.
"When I visited Kenya for a market survey, there was a man from Sysmex's local affiliate who served as a guide for me. During our many hours of traveling, we told each other our stories. He told me that he was the first son of ten children, but he and one other sibling were the only survivors. The other eight died as children from malaria and other deadly diseases. This was a tremendously sobering moment for me. I had known that one child dies every two minutes there, but with this reality seeming so far away from Japan, my sense of the fact was not sharp. But here I was in a part of the world where people regularly die from malaria, leaving friends and family to suffer from and lament their deaths. Talking with someone who lived in this reality changed something in me, and my attitude toward this project was similarly affected."
Meanwhile, Takeuchi has maintained close communications with malaria researchers. Such encounters gave rise to a sense of mission in her, which has kept driving her forward. "I have had the pleasure of knowing doctors and researchers who have brought enormous passion to eliminating malaria for decades, with some residing in countries in Africa and Asia to combat this fatal disease, and others dedicated to the development of vaccines. My desire to save the lives of as many patients as possible with this diagnostic device gets stronger day by day, and my passion burns with a similar intensity maintained by the admirable doctors and researchers facing to patients on the frontlines."
To our great joy, users of this device send us favorable reviews on its performance. Some thanked us for helping to make their testing efficient, as it does not necessitate many hours of training, and others are sending constructive suggestions based on their user experience, such as "If you use it this way, it will be more convenient," or "If you do this, you can expand its scope of application." Sysmex plans to further advance the technology that it has cultivated for this device.