The health ministry’s preventive measures to handle outbreaks of serious infectious diseases are inadequate and require major improvements, the internal affairs ministry said Tuesday.

Twenty-five prefectures do not have designated hospitals to treat patients with diseases classified by law as particularly infectious, including SARS and new strains of influenza, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said.

The ministry admonished the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry on Tuesday and told it to push its own quarantine stations and prefectural governments harder to take corrective measures.

Of the 25 prefectures, 15 do not even have plans in place to designate such hospitals, according to the internal affairs ministry’s Administrative Evaluation Bureau, which assessed quarantine stations and prefectures between December 2004 and February.

The health ministry has jurisdiction over prefectures on infectious disease policies.

The internal affairs ministry also found that of 14 prefectures audited, only two have an institution for patients who come down with new strains of influenza. Few have systems in place to transport such patients to the appropriate facilities, ministry officials said.

All 16 quarantine institutions assessed by the ministry have problems, including a lack of guidelines on what to do when patients with a serious infectious disease turn up.

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