I read with great disgust the May 6 (Kyodo) article “Hospitals in Tokyo refusing flu patients.” According to the article, the hospitals feared that these patients had “swine flu” (A-type H1N1 influenza). Shame on them, the Tokyo government and the medical establishment in Japan in general if this is not repudiated and corrected.
As a permanent foreign resident of Japan and a person who has utilized — and defended and praised — the the medical system here, I was dismayed to read this article. Although the entire article was truly unsettling, the part about patients being rejected after reporting that they worked at Narita Airport or that they had a foreign friend particularly turned my stomach. The people of Tokyo must not let this stand. Medical facilities cannot be allowed to pick and choose whom they will help. The health ministry must take action and punish those institutions who refused patients and violated the medical practitioners’ law.
If this is not a violation of the law, the law must be revised. In essence, though, this is a case of discrimination. If people think “I don’t work at Narita” or “I don’t associate with foreigners so this is not my problem,” they had better think again. Next time they could be part of a group deemed “risky” and they will find themselves being discriminated against.
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