Thirty-one percent of public health centers nationwide do not have teams that can deal with bioterrorism and 26 percent do not have guidelines on how to deal with such an attack despite being required by the government, the government said Tuesday.

Under guidelines set by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry to prepare for bioterrorism — such as an attack with the smallpox virus — public health centers must have six working teams to handle separate tasks, such as sanitization and vaccination, during an attack.

A government survey found that only 55 percent of public health centers have all six working teams, 32 percent have detailed guidelines and 43 percent have general guidelines to deal with biological attacks.

Officials conducting the survey contacted 547 public health centers between December and January, but only 285 facilities participated.

“There is a difference in readiness at each public health center,” said Iwao Uchiyama, a professor of environmental health at Kyoto University who headed the survey.

Only 8 percent of the respondents conducted joint training with other organizations against smallpox attacks.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.