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1.  Contribution of the Japan International Cooperation Agency health-related projects to health system strengthening 
Background
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has focused its attention on appraising health development assistance projects and redirecting efforts towards health system strengthening. This study aimed to describe the type of project and targets of interest, and assess the contribution of JICA health-related projects to strengthening health systems worldwide.
Methods
We collected a web-based Project Design Matrix (PDM) of 105 JICA projects implemented between January 2005 and December 2009. We developed an analytical matrix based on the World Health Organization (WHO) health system framework to examine the PDM data and thereby assess the projects’ contributions to health system strengthening.
Results
The majority of JICA projects had prioritized workforce development, and improvements in governance and service delivery. Conversely, there was little assistance for finance or medical product development. The vast majority (87.6%) of JICA projects addressed public health issues, for example programs to improve maternal and child health, and the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Nearly 90% of JICA technical healthcare assistance directly focused on improving governance as the most critical means of accomplishing its goals.
Conclusions
Our study confirmed that JICA projects met the goals of bilateral cooperation by developing workforce capacity and governance. Nevertheless, our findings suggest that JICA assistance could be used to support financial aspects of healthcare systems, which is an area of increasing concern. We also showed that the analytical matrix methodology is an effective means of examining the component of health system strengthening to which the activity and output of a project contributes. This may help policy makers and practitioners focus future projects on priority areas.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-13-39
PMCID: PMC3856466  PMID: 24053583
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA); Health system improvement; Project design matrix
2.  Pyrrolidinyl peptide nucleic acid with α/β-peptide backbone 
Artificial DNA, PNA & XNA  2011;2(2):50-59.
We describe herein a new conformationally constrained analog of PNA carrying an alternating α/β amino acid backbone consisting of (2′R,4′R)-nucleobase-subtituted proline and (1S,2S)-2-aminocyclopentanecarboxylic acid (acpcPNA). The acpcPNA has been synthesized and evaluated for DNA, RNA and self-pairing properties by thermal denaturation experiments. It can form antiparallel hybrids with complementary DNA with high affinity and sequence specificity. Unlike other PNA systems, the thermal stability of acpcPNA·DNA hybrid is largely independent of G+C contents, and is generally higher than that of acpcPNA·RNA hybrid with the same sequence. Thermodynamic parameters analysis suggest that the A·T base pairs in the acpcPNA·DNA hybrids are enthalpically stabilized over G·C pairs. The acpcPNA also shows a hitherto unreported behavior, namely the inability to form self-pairing hybrids. These unusual properties should make the new acpcPNA a potentially useful candidate for various applications including microarray probes and antigene agents.
doi:10.4161/adna.2.2.16340
PMCID: PMC3166490  PMID: 21912727
peptide nucleic acid; nucleic acid; DNA recognition; RNA recognition; pre-organization; foldamer; α/β-peptide

Results 1-2 (2)