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Rainfall-induced floods and landslides accounted for 20.7% of all disaster events in Japan from 1985 through 2018 and caused a variety of health problems, both directly and indirectly, including injuries, infectious diseases, exacerbation of pre-existing medical conditions, and psychological issues. More evidence of health problems caused by floods or heavy rain is needed to improve preparedness and preventive measures; however, collecting health data surrounding disaster events is a major challenge due to environmental hazards, logistical constraints, political and economic issues, difficulties in communication among stakeholders, and cultural barriers. In response to the West Japan Heavy Rain in July 2018, Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs) used Japan - Surveillance in Post-Extreme Emergencies and Disasters (J-SPEED) as a daily reporting template, collecting data on the number and type of patients they treated and sending it to an EMT coordination cell (EMTCC) during the response.
The aim of the study was to conduct a descriptive epidemiology study using J-SPEED data to better understand the health problems during floods and heavy rain disasters.
The number and types of health problems treated by EMTs in accordance with the J-SPEED (Ver 1.0) form were reported daily by 85 EMTs to an EMTCC, where data were compiled during the West Japan Heavy Rain from July 8 through September 11, 2018. Reported items in the J-SPEED form were analyzed by age, gender, area (prefecture), and time period.
The analysis of J-SPEED data from the West Japan Heavy Rain 2018 revealed the characteristics of a total of 3,617 consultations with the highest number of consultations (2,579; 71.3%) occurring between Day 5 and Day 12 of the 65-day EMT response. During the response period, skin disease was the most frequently reported health event (17.3%), followed by wounds (14.3%), disaster stress-related symptoms (10.0%), conjunctivitis (6.3%), and acute respiratory infections (ARI; 5.4%).
During the response period, skin disease was the most frequently reported health event, followed by wounds, stress, conjunctivitis, and ARIs. The health impacts of a natural disaster are determined by a variety of factors, and the current study’s findings are highly context dependent; however, it is expected that as more data are gathered, the consistency of finding will increase.
The prime aim of Project for Strengthening the ASEAN Regional Capacity on Disaster Health Management (ARCH Project) is to strengthen the disaster health management (DHM) capacity in the context of personal level, Emergency Medical Team (EMT), and the regional collaboration. The ARCH Project was implemented with reference to international trends of DHM and seeks to contribute to the development of global standards.
The project established the Project Working Groups that consisted of representatives of ASEAN Member States (AMS) to develop standard operating procedures (SOP) for international EMT (I-EMT) coordination. Furthermore, it aimed to organize training sessions along with implementation of the regional collaboration drill (RCD) in accordance with I-EMT minimum requirements and in line with coordination standards set by the WHO.
The ARCH Project developed the SOP and common platform for I-EMT coordination, organized training, and conducted RCDs with reference to the WHO’s EMT initiative. Furthermore, it also contributed to the development of the EMT Minimum Data Set (MDS), an international standard DHM tool that underwent testing at the RCDs before the WHO endorsement and its utilization in actual disaster response.
In the process of strengthening ASEAN regional capacity in DHM, the project is constantly capturing international trends and also making significant contributions in the development of global systems and tools.
Japan recently experienced two major heavy rain disasters: the West Japan heavy rain disaster in July 2018 and the Kumamoto heavy rain disaster in July 2020. Between the occurrences of these two disasters, Japan began experiencing the wave of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, providing a unique opportunity to compare the incidence of acute respiratory infection (ARI) between the two disaster responses under distinct conditions.
Sources for Information:
The data were collected by using the standard disaster medical reporting system used in Japan, so-called the Japan-Surveillance in Post-Extreme Emergencies and Disasters (J-SPEED), which reports number and types of patients treated by Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs). Data for ARI were extracted from daily aggregated data on the J-SPEED form and the frequency of ARI in two disasters was compared.
Acute respiratory infection in the West Japan heavy rain that occurred in the absence of COVID-19 and in the Kumamoto heavy rain that occurred in the presence of COVID-19 were responsible for 5.4% and 1.2% of the total consultation, respectively (P <.001).
Analysis of Observation and Conclusion:
Between the occurrence of these two disasters, Japan implemented COVID-19 preventive measures on a personal and organizational level, such as wearing masks, disinfecting hands, maintaining social distance, improving room ventilation, and screening people who entered evacuation centers by using hygiene management checklists. By following the basic prevention measures stated above, ARI can be significantly reduced during a disaster.
We conducted a systematic review to determine the prevalence and characteristics of earthquake-associated head injuries for better disaster preparedness and management.
We searched for all publications related to head injuries and earthquakes from 1985 to 2018 in MEDLINE and other major databases. A search was conducted using “earthquakes,” “wounds and injuries,” and “cranio-cerebral trauma” as a medical subject headings.
Included in the analysis were 34 articles. With regard to the commonly occurring injuries, earthquake-related head injury ranks third among patients with earthquake-related injuries. The most common trauma is lower extremity (36.2%) followed by upper extremity (19.9%), head (16.6%), spine (13.1%), chest (11.3%), and abdomen (3.8%). The most common earthquake-related head injury was laceration or contusion (59.1%), while epidural hematoma was the most common among inpatients with intracranial hemorrhage (9.5%) followed by intracerebral hematoma (7.0%), and subdural hematoma (6.8%). Mortality rate was 5.6%.
Head injuries were found to be a commonly occurring trauma along with extremity injuries. This knowledge is important for determining the demands for neurosurgery and for adequately managing patients, especially in resource-limited conditions.
There was no common medical record used in disasters in Japan. At the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, medical teams used their own medical records instead of a unified format and operational rules. As a result, confusion occurred at the clinical practice site. The Joint Committee on Medical Records proposed a standard format of disaster medical records in February 2015. The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare has issued the notification of states’ use of a standardized medical record for disaster in 2017. It was confirmed that standardized disaster medical records were used by each organization in the 2018 Western Japan torrential rain disaster and the Hokkaido Iburi Eastern Earthquake, but the actual condition of those records was not clarified.
We sent a questionnaire to the local governments where the medical team worked in 2018 Western Japan torrential rain disaster and the Hokkaido Iburi Eastern Earthquake. In the questionnaire, we asked about the operation and management of standardized disaster medical records at the time of the disaster and also questioned future management methods.
There was no use of other medical records. Standardized medical records were used in all records. All records were managed and operated by the disaster medical headquarters responsible for health care and welfare. Standardized disaster medical records were recorded on paper. Evacuees included patients who moved from shelter to shelter or to temporary housing to get better living conditions. That created difficulties transferring records since it was recorded on paper and stored in medical headquarters. Some returning patients were checked by several medical teams, resulting in the creation of several medical records of the same patient’s condition. Future improvements and management of the recording process and record-keeping are required.
The Emergency Medical Team (EMT) Strategic Advisory Group of the World Health Organization has endorsed the EMT Minimum Data Set (MDS) as the standard methodology for EMT daily report. The MDS had been developed on a similar methodology called J-SPEED which developed in Japan. Thus, lessons learned from the J-SPEED can be applied to the MDS.
To review previous J-SPEED activations and to extract lessons learned.
Cases of the J-SPEED activation at the Kumamoto earthquake in 2016, West Japan Heavy Rain in 2018, and Hokkaido Earthquake in 2018 were reviewed.
The first large-scale activation of the J-SPEED at the Kumamoto earthquake revealed a significant burden in aggregations of submitted paper forms at the EMT Coordination Cell (EMTCC). To strengthen this function of the EMTCC, electronic system and human capacity development have been identified as key issues. To fulfill this gap, a smartphone app so-called J-SPEED+ has been developed. Also, the J-SPEED offsite analysis support team, which is a team to support analysis of data from outside of an affected area has been established. These two functions contributed to significant improvement of J-SPEED data flow at the West Japan Heavy Rain and Hokkaido Earthquake. These two responses reinforced the necessity of strengthening the capacity of J-SPEED onsite coordinator working at the ETMCC, and national education and training for all EMTs.
In order to strengthen the mechanism to run the J-SPEED, nationwide training for all EMTs, onsite coordinators, and the off-site analysis support team have been established. The authors regard this structural approach as a requirement for other countries to run the MDS.
Earthquakes have killed around 800,000 people globally in the past 20 years, with head injury being the main cause of mortality and morbidity.
To conduct a systematic review to determine the characteristics of head injuries after earthquakes for better disaster preparedness and management.
All publications related to head injuries and earthquakes were searched using Pubmed, Web of Science, the Cochrane Library, and Ichushi.
Thirty-six articles were included in the analysis. Head injury was the third most common cause of injury among survivors of earthquakes. The most common injury after an earthquake occurred was in the lower extremities (36.2%), followed by the upper extremities (19.9%), head (16.6%), spine (13.3%), chest (11.3%), and abdomen (3.8%). Earthquake-related head injuries were predominantly caused by a blunt strike (79%), and were more frequently associated with soft tissue injury compared to non-earthquake-related head injuries and less frequently with intracranial hemorrhage. The mean age of patients with earthquake-related head injuries was 32.6 years, and 55.1% of sufferers were male. The most common earthquake-related head injury was laceration or contusion (59.2%) while epidural hematoma was most common among inpatients with intracranial hemorrhage after an earthquake (9.5%). Early wound irrigation and debridement and antibiotics administration are needed to decrease the risk of infection. Mortality due to earthquake-related head injuries was 5.6%.
Head injury was the main cause of mortality and morbidity after an earthquake. The characteristics of earthquake-related head injuries differed from those of non-earthquake-related head injuries, including the frequency of multiple injuries, and occurrence of contaminated soft tissue injury and epidural hematoma. This knowledge is important for determining demands for neurosurgery and for adequate management of patients, especially in resource-limited conditions.
We investigated the relationship between the intake of fish and the risk of death from prostate cancer.
Data were derived from a prospective cohort study in Japan. Fish consumption obtained from a baseline questionnaire was classified into the two categories of ‘low intake’ and ‘high intake’. The Cox proportional hazards model was used to estimate hazard ratios (HR) and 95 % confidence intervals.
Data for 5589 men aged 30–79 years were analysed.
A total of twenty-one prostate cancer deaths were observed during 75 072 person-years of follow-up. Mean age at baseline study of these twenty-one subjects was 67·7 years, ranging from 47 and 79 years old. Results showed a consistent inverse association of this cancer between the high v. low intake groups. The multivariate model adjusted for potential confounding factors and some other food items showed a HR of 0·12 (95 % CI 0·05, 0·32) for the high intake group of fish consumption.
These results support the hypothesis that a high intake of fish may decrease the risk of prostate cancer death. Given the paucity of studies examining the association between prostate cancer and fish consumption, particularly in Asian populations, these findings require confirmation in additional cohort studies.
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