Disaster medical assistance teams (DMATs) have been deployed to areas in Japan where medical institutions were severely damaged by massive Typhoon Hagibis last weekend.
According to the health ministry, a total of 29 medical institutions in Fukushima, Tochigi and other prefectures were flooded, and seven of them remained inundated as of Friday afternoon.
In the town of Marumori, Miyagi Prefecture, three of four affected medical institutions became unable to offer usual services.
The three include the town’s largest hospital, which was flooded above floor level. Inpatients were evacuated by Thursday. The hospital, located near the municipal government building, is usually visited by about 200 outpatients on a daily basis.
In the aftermath of the typhoon, the local government set up a medical aid station within its building, where full-time DMAT members provide medical care free of charge.
Kunimoto Abe, 79, visited the medical station as he had a diarrheal symptom while staying at an evacuation shelter after mud flowed into his house in the typhoon.
“I was worried as I had never had stomach trouble. But I’m relieved after receiving care,” Abe said.
“We hope to play a stopgap role until the medical posture is restored here,” said the DMAT team’s doctor, Shinsaku Ueda.
In the city of Nagano, a DMAT team including public health nurses and registered dietitians began to offer counseling services in flooded areas and at evacuation shelters on Monday.
An official of the city’s public health center said that there are concerns about infectious disease, while evacuees are starting to complain of psychological stress as they are staying at shelters for a prolonged period.
The official also said many elderly people are putting aside treatment for their existing medical problems as they are preoccupied with cleaning up their homes after the typhoon.
“We need to check if they are monitoring blood pressure and carrying drugs,” the official said.