JMA Disaster Headquarters Status Reports

23:30, March 25, 2011

Formal Complaint
On March 25, the JMA issued a formal complaint about the statement made by a Diet Member Shu Watanabe, broadcast on TV on March 20. Despite holding the responsible position of Deputy Head of the Democratic Party of Japan, Emergency Management Headquarters, Mr. Watanabe made a scathing statement about an incident involving a hospital in Fukushima Prefecture where, despite frantic efforts by the physicians, they could not return to the patients’ aid during evacuation, implying that doctors had deserted the patients. His careless statement, made without any effort to verify the facts, has already attracted vocal criticisms from all over the country. It is especially inexcusable for lacking the due respect to the medical practitioners, who were doing their utmost in the disaster-stricken area.

Postmortem Examinations
Our postmortem examination teams have so far completed examinations of 9,890 bodies found and retrieved. Among those, 6,890 were identified, 6,320 of whom were released to their family. There will be many more deceased yet to be found. Therefore, their postmortem examination tasks and related administrative procedures will be considerably prolonged.

JMA has properly streamlined the JMAT system in providing assistance in the disaster-affected prefectures. We recommend health professionals contributing to the medical aid efforts in a disaster-affected prefecture to participate in the JMAT scheme, even if they are doing so separately with the medical association of their respective prefecture (in the capacity of a medical organization, academic society, or an individual), and make effective use of the medical aid system operated by JMA in collaboration with an insurance company. This does not mean those health professionals are required to follow instructions from the medical association. This request of cooperation is made in the interest to developing a safe and concern-free medical aid system, for our future emergency management.

As of 15:00 today, 129 teams have been or are in action, and 106 teams are being prepared. Despite the rapidly increasing number of teams, the evacuees at evacuation centers are finding their living conditions increasingly difficult. This is going to be a long and arduous struggle, waiting for radical measures to address the needs of the evacuees. We call for more cooperation and assistance from health professionals throughout Japan, to help maintain the health of those evacuated.

Employment Adjustment Subsidy
If a hospital/clinic owner suffers a reduced level of business due to this disaster, the employment adjustment subsidy is available. It is a scheme to fund a part of the temporary leave allowance (80% for small to medium-size businesses in principle), payable to maintain employment of the workers while business is disrupted. Please make your inquiry at the prefectural labor bureau or Hello Work (employment office).

Medical Services under Health Insurance
There are an increasing number of people evacuating from the disaster-affected prefecture and seeking medical care elsewhere. Please note the following points when handling insurance related matters concerning such patients:
1) If it is unclear which insurance scheme the patient is under (Social or National), document it and allow exemption of the temporary copayment;
2) If drugs intended for disaster aid have been used, a claim can be made for insurance reimbursement, unless they are clearly drugs intended for aid (in order to minimize the confusion);
3) Regarding the medical practice provided at aid centers or evacuation centers, claim the cost of medical care from the prefecture or municipality.

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