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2018.05.28

【Aging, safety net and fiscal crisis in Japan】No.114: The Earthquake Resistance of Hospitals and Other Issues

In this column series, Yukihiro Matsuyama, Research Director at CIGS introduces the latest information about aging, safety net and fiscal crisis in Japan with data of international comparison.

In April 2018, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare released a report on the earthquake resistance of hospitals. There are 8,404 hospitals in Japan as of the end of 2017. As shown in Figure 1, the percentage of hospitals with all buildings being earthquake-resistant has increased from 64.2% in 2013 to 72.9% in 2017. Considering only disaster hospitals and emergency centers that play an important role in the event of a disaster, the percentage has increased from 78.8% to 89.4% during the same period. However, 17.4% of hospitals have not had earthquake resistance tests.

Being earthquake resistant means that a building has the strength to avoid collapse even if a large earthquake occurs. However, hospitals are not always able to fulfill their purpose at the time of a large earthquake simply by avoiding collapse. This is because a large number of patients exceeding the usual numbers will arrive at the hospital during a disaster.

When a large earthquake occurs at night after many staff have returned home, the staff and their families also suffer, transportation stops, and it takes time to prepare hospitals for full operation. As mentioned in Column No.9, the number of Japanese dialysis patients is over 320,000. As it is difficult to secure the clean water indispensable for dialysis, it is necessary to transfer these patients to hospitals in areas unaffected by disaster. In Japan, there is no platform database to share patient medical records widely. Therefore, during the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, we could not properly distribute prescription medicine for the elderly protected in evacuation shelters.


Figure 1: Percentage of earthquake resistant hospitals
114-fig1.png

Source: Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare



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