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The 11th of March 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck alongside the north-east coast of Honshu Island, Japan, causing a tsunami and a major nuclear accident. The French Institute for Public Health Surveillance (InVS) set up, within one week after the triple catastrophe, an Internet-based registry for French nationals who were in Japan at the time of the disasters. In this string of disasters, in this context of uncertainties about the nuclear risks, the aim of this registry was to facilitate the: (1) realization of further epidemiologic studies, if needed; and (2) contact of people if a medical follow-up was needed. The purpose of this report was to describe how the health registry was set up, what it was used for, and to discuss further utilization and improvements to health registries after disasters.
The conception of the questionnaire to register French nationals was based on a form developed as part of the Steering Committee for the management of the post-accident phase in the event of nuclear accident or a radiological emergency situation (CODIRPA) work. The questionnaire was available online.
The main objective was achieved since it was theoretically possible to contact again the 1,089 persons who completed the form. According to the data collected on their space-time budget, to the result of internal contamination measured by the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) and dosimetric expertise published by the World Health Organization (WHO), it was not suitable to conduct an epidemiologic follow-up of adverse effects of exposure to ionizing radiations among them. However, this registry was used to launch a qualitative study on exposure to stress and psychosocial impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake on French nationals who were in Japan in March 2011.
Setting a registry after a disaster is a very important step in managing the various consequences of a disaster. This experience showed that it is quickly feasible and does not raise adverse side effects in involved people.
MotreffY, PirardP, LagréeC, RoudierC, Empereur-BissonnetP. Voluntary Health Registry of French Nationals after the Great East Japan Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident: Methods, Results, Implications, and Feedback. Prehosp Disaster Med.2016;31(3):326–329.
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