JMA Disaster Headquarters Status Reports

11:00, March 21, 2011

Oxygen Tanks
On March 14, the Compliance and Narcotics Division, Pharmaceutical and Food Safety Bureau, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare issued a notification entitled, "About the use of industrial-use compressed gas cylinders as medical-use compressed gas cylinders." It is possible to use industrial-use oxygen tanks under certain conditions when there is no other choice. This is absolutely limited to black oxygen tanks.

Narcotic and Psychotropic Drugs
On the same day the same division issued a notification entitled, "About the handling of prescriptions for narcotic and psychotropic drugs." In situations where a doctor cannot examine a patient or issue a prescription, narcotic and psychotropic drugs may be delivered upon a retail seller of narcotic drugs contacting the doctor who is the narcotics practitioner and reporting the patient's condition. This is possible across prefectural borders.

Sale of Drugs and Medical Devices among medical institutions
Also, the Bureau sent out a notification indicating that making accommodations for hospitals and clinics associated with the disaster regarding the sale of drugs and medical devices from one medical institution to another, which is prohibited by medical laws, will not be considered a violation of medical laws.

JMAT & Coordination Efforts
At present more than 90 JMATs have been dispatched or preparing to be dispatched. However, life in evacuation centers is continuing for many people, including invalids. For that reason, the JMA requests that each prefecture considers forming new teams to protect the health of survivors.

The presidents of medical associations in the Tohoku region including the disaster-affected prefectures, disaster response personnel, and full-time officers of the JMA are scheduled to exchange information on the current situation via a teleconference in the afternoon of Tuesday, March 22.

The transportation situation is expected to improve after the long weekend, and support provided by JMATs will focus on traveling around to evacuation centers to make examinations and provide treatment and on maintaining first aid stations. In this regard, cooperation with prefectural medical associations and county, city, and ward medical associations will be extremely important.

Accordingly, teams and associations will have to stay in even greater contact with each other. From here on, continuously delivering sanitary products and medical aid, rather than food and such supplies, to people who cannot be moved from and those remaining in evacuation centers will translate into protecting the health of evacuees.

At present, contact with prefectural medical associations and county, city, and ward medical associations in disaster-affected areas is becoming more stable, and so the JMA is adjusting certain scheduling matters and asking prefectural medical associations to control the details for everything else. For example, prefectural medical associations and county, city, and ward medical associations are ensuring that JMATs traveling around to evacuation centers are continuously formed and sent out to all evacuation centers, even if the personnel are dispatched from different prefectures.

Until now, JMATs were organized by people who could provide immediate support. But better support will be possible if the prefectural medical associations dispatching JMATs can continuously make plans. Additionally, cooperation with hospital organizations, university hospitals, and other organizations will be important for putting together a continuous support system, and so the JMA will prepare a venue for discussing that issue.

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