JMA Disaster Headquarters Status Reports

19:30, April 12, 2011

The JMA Disaster Headquarters and the presidents of the Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectural medical associations held a teleconference today from 16:00. Remarks from the presidents of each association are given below.

(1) Iwate
There are 3,822 dead and 4,091 missing, and the numbers continue to rise. Iwate Prefecture has formed a reconstruction committee and is ready to formulate measures in the health and medical care fields. However, evacuees are still living in abysmal conditions and patients who were undergoing rehabilitation have been left in limbo, unable to continue their rehabilitation. Some people have just been lying on the floor for a long period of time, and we are worried that disuse syndrome will progress. As an improvement strategy some evacuation centers have started morning and evening calisthenics.

So far 70 JMATs have come to the prefecture, and we have launched Iwate JMATs, formed mainly by our 10 inland medical associations. We would like to have JMATs provide support in the current form, and are thinking to respond with Iwate JMATs to requests for specialist medical care, such as internal medicine specialties, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, occupational and physical therapy (OT/PT), and pain management.

(2) Fukushima
Strong aftershocks at the intensity 6 level continued today, and people who have evacuated are feeling very uneasy. The zone within 30 km of the radioactive contamination is where people were supposed to stay indoors, but now a planned evacuation zone has been designated even around that distance. Today, the government raised the accident rating to level 7—the same level as the Chernobyl accident—based on international assessment, causing residents to become even more nervous.

As news spread of the government's announcement about the range of contamination, many people fled with just the clothes on their backs, and many are patiently putting up with a situation in which they have no change of clothes or could not bring important items. Additionally, foods are mostly carbohydrate with scant vitamins or protein. There have even been reports of people showing symptoms of beriberi.

(3) Miyagi
Overall the situation has calmed down, but the number of dead has risen to 8,017 and missing to 6,387. The Japan Self Defense Forces and U.S. military are searching the sea every day and finding about 70-80 bodies a day. Thus far 240 JMATs have come and right now 37 JMATs are in action. We have decided to make Miyagi JMATs with members of the prefectural medical association, but with eight hospitals in the prefecture having collapsed and about 60 clinics in an unusable condition, we are at a loss for a way forward. We are counting on bold support measures from the prefectural and national governments.

Miyagi has a long history of damage from tsunamis following earthquakes. But the lessons from the Meiji period (1868-1912) were wasted, and the towns were built on level, low-lying land. This time, because the damage from the tsunami was so severe, people are considering building new towns during the reconstruction. Although this disaster is said to be of a size that hits only once in 1,200 years, this time the towns will most likely have to be rebuilt on high ground. In the town of Minamisanriku, Israeli soldiers set up a prefab clinic including an X-ray machine and other equipment. Doctors who survived the disaster are continuing to see patients using that clinic in place of the town hospital that was destroyed. In the city of Ishinomaki, patients are converging on Japanese Red Cross hospital, the staff of which is doing its best to cope with the situation.

As of today, 448 JMATs are in action or have been dispatched and 117 JMATs are preparing to be dispatched.

Web-based Members Forum
Members Forum on the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake is now available for doctors who participated in a JMAT to share their impression and experiences and for JMA members to post constructive opinions in the Member's Room on the JMA Website.

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