JMA Disaster Headquarters Status Reports

19:00, April 11, 2011

One-month Anniversary
Today marks one month since the earthquake and tsunami. During that period the number of people living in evacuation centers has decreased to about 150,000, which is one third the initial number. Nevertheless, the difficult life as an evacuee continues for many. The construction of temporary housing is proceeding, but the number of units is not enough. According to an NHK survey, there has been a shift in evacuees' requests. Their top three difficulties in order are: (1) the lack of correct information, (2) the lack of privacy, and (3) the lack of bathing facilities. Plans that grasp evacuees' needs have to be established regarding future support.

Members Forum on JMA Website
The JMA Disaster Countermeasures Headquarters is going to set up a forum on the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake in the Member's Room on the JMA website as a place for members to exchange information. JMAT operations will have to continue, but there are a number of challenges, including reconstruction support in the disaster areas and the public's anxiety about radioactive/radiation contamination. It is hoped this forum will become a place for members to provide constructive opinions and discuss their JMAT experiences, the JMA's activities and related topics. Members will be able to read and make posts from April 13.

Observation Visit
JMA Executive Board Member Dr. Shigeri Hosaka left Tokyo on the evening of April 6 with members of the Japan Pediatric Association to inspect the coastal disaster areas in Iwate. The main purpose of the visit was to ascertain the sanitary conditions in evacuation centers and problems children have with evacuee life and to determine the need to dispatch teams of pediatric specialists. The inspection team also delivered support materials such as baby food.

At the four evacuation centers they visited, they saw the situation for children, and got the impression that there is no problem in terms of sanitary conditions, since bathing facilities prepared by Self-Defense Forces were being used and toilets were relatively clean. The main problems were the lack of privacy and hardly any place for children to play.

On April 7, JMA Vice-President Dr. Yoshitake Yokokura and Executive Board Member Dr. Kenji Fujikawa visited the city of Iwaki in Fukushima, a disaster site that is also facing the radiation problem. They joined a meeting at the countermeasures headquarters of the city medical association and had talks with currently dispatched JMATs. They discussed medical examination and rounds records made at evacuation centers using triage cards and other means. They reported opinions such as, "The JMAT cards are perhaps a bit small," and "Teams should record and store patient files for evacuation centers."

School Health
On April 5, a request for consideration regarding the reopening of schools and restart of school lunches in disaster areas came from the School Health Education Division in the Sports and Youth Bureau of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT):
(1) Hygienic management needs to be secured for school lunches (including extra sanitary examinations and inspections), and
(2) Periodic health checkups must usually be completed by June 30, but leeway will be given if the checkups cannot be conducted for unavoidable reasons.
Also, at the request of MEXT, the JMA's School Health Committee prepared a simple booklet about "Mental Healthcare for Children who are Survivors of a Disaster." The booklet is intended to encourage those around children to be open to noticing the subtle changes in children's emotions so that they can respond appropriately.

As of today, 448 JMATs are in or have been in action and 117 JMATs are preparing to be dispatched. In addition, the prefectural medical associations that will continuously dispatch teams has been decided for three locations in Fukushima and five locations in Iwate, and this plan is ready to be implemented.

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