JMA Disaster Headquarters Status Reports

19:30, April 28, 2011

Survivors Health Support Liaison Council
On April 28, JMA President Katsuyuki Haranaka and Vice-president Yoshitake Yokokura held a press conference and reported on the first meeting of the Survivors Health Support Liaison Council established recently at the request of the government. At this meeting the Council, under the Special Headquarters for Measures to Assist the Lives of Disaster Victims, agreed to compile the opinions of the participating organizations, especially regarding the health of survivors, and offer suggestions to the government.

Participating organizations include the Japan Medical Association, the Japan Dental Association, the Japan Pharmaceutical Association, the Japanese Nursing Association, the Association of Japanese Medical Colleges, the Japan Hospital Association, and the All Japan Hospital Association. The Japanese Association of Psychiatric Hospitals, the Association of Japanese Healthcare Corporations, the Japan Dietetic Association and other organizations have asked to join the Liaison Council, and so the number of participating organizations is expected to increase.

The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and the JMA are occupying a secretariat-like position with President Haranaka serving as president of the Liaison Council. The secretariat is headed by Vice-president Yokokura and the Dr. Takamasa Kayama, Chief Director of the National Cancer Center. House of Councilors members Shinya Adachi and Satoshi Umemura, who were involved thus far as members of the ruling party, became advisors and promised to provide strong links with the political administration ( Fig. 1).

Current Situation of Evacuees
At the press conference, Vice-president Yokokura also reported the current situation of evacuees in the afflicted prefectures. Evacuee numbers are as follows: 41,147 in Iwate (as of 4/24), 39,941 in Miyagi (as of 4/27), and 26,371 in Fukushima (as of 4/27), making a total of 107,459 people who are currently living as evacuees in varied locations. During this period there have been reports of elderly people dying in evacuation shelters. Mental and physical health management will become necessary the longer life in evacuation shelters continues. Dr. Yokokura announced that opinions in the direction of first of all maintaining the health and protecting the life of evacuees would be given to the government through the Council ( Table 1).

As of April 28, 751 JMATs (including already dispatched teams) are in action and 172 JMATs are preparing to be dispatched. There are many places that plan to join ongoing support efforts. In the city of Iwaki, Fukushima, which was severely damaged, about 90% of the medical care system has been restored and evacuees have moved, reducing their number in the city. Accordingly, a report was received indicating that future JMAT support will no longer be needed. The JMA plans to assign the JMATs scheduled to go to Iwaki to other locations.

Prefab Clinic in Otsuchi
It has been decided to set up a large prefab clinic donated through the intermediation of the JMA in the town of Otsuchi, Iwate, where the prefectural hospital and all other medical institutions were washed away by the tsunami. The facility has already been transported from Shanghai and is expected to reach Otsuchi during Golden Week holidays. The prefectural and town governments have been proceeding with the construction of first air stations (to be changed later to medical institutions accepting health insurance) as quickly as possible.

Loans and Systems for Medical Institutions
It has been decided that Welfare and Medical Service Agency will provide long-term, low-interest loans for buildings and equipment to help the recovery of affected medical institutions. It has also been decided to move in the direction of providing deferments on outstanding loans for medical institutions that were afflicted during their repayment period and to provide interest exemption during the period of deferment. It has also become possible to make use of systems for employees, such as subsidies for employment adjustment and unemployment benefits. The JMA recommends these systems be used as a means of avoiding, as much as possible, a future problem in which personnel in afflicted prefectures become scattered across other prefectures.

The JMA also asks that information about these means and systems be passed along, since it does not reach affected members easily. The JMA is also providing recovered medical institutions introductions to companies that are volunteering to provide assistance rebuilding receipt computers and support ranging from patient files and other reception-related matters to medical records. Accordingly, we welcome your inquiries.

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