Local health facilities play a critical role in mitigating the deterioration of health after catastrophic disasters. However, limited information is available on clinic damage. Therefore, the National Institute of Public Health conducted surveillance on clinic damage after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE) to identify risk factors.
A cross-sectional study using a paper-based questionnaire was conducted that targeted 728 clinics located in coastal areas in the 3 prefectures most affected by the GEJE.
The risk of building damage was inversely correlated with distance from the coast, whereas the risk of ceasing operations was significantly correlated with building damage and some specialties of clinics, namely, internal medicine and pediatrics.
In mountainous countries like Japan, clinics often need to be built in coastal areas, where the majority of residents live. This surveillance revealed that clinics built in readily accessible locations and that provide care with high needs are more likely to get damaged by tsunamis. As clinics are often the frontline health facilities in disaster settings, local disaster plans need to include plans to reinforce disaster preparedness among clinics. For effective planning and resource allocation, nationwide hazard vulnerability analysis using a global standard will be helpful. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2018; 12: 291–295)
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