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Disaster Vulnerability of Hospitals: A Nationwide Surveillance in Japan

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 September 2015

Sae Ochi*
Department of Crisis Management, National Institute of Public Health, Saitama, Japan Department of Internal Medicine, Soma Central Hospital, Fukushima, Japan, and MRC-HPA Centre for Environment and Health, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom
Shigeaki Kato
Department of Radiation Protection, Soma Central Hospital, Fukushima, Japan
Kenichi Kobayashi
Department of Environmental Health National Institute of Public Health, Saitama, Japan
Yasuhiro Kanatani
Department of Crisis Management, National Institute of Public Health, Saitama, Japan
Correspondence and reprint requests to Sae Ochi, MD, MPH, PhD, Soma Central Hospital, Okinouchi 3-5-18, Soma City, Fukushima 976-0016 Japan (e-mail:



Hospital preparedness against disasters is key to achieving disaster mitigation for health. To gain a holistic view of hospitals in Japan, one of the most disaster-prone countries, a nationwide surveillance of hospital preparedness was conducted.


A cross-sectional, paper-based interview was conducted that targeted all of the 8701 registered hospitals in Japan. Preparedness was assessed with regard to local hazards, compliance to building code, and preparation of resources such as electricity, water, communication tools, and transportation tools.


Answers were obtained from 6122 hospitals (response rate: 70.3%), among which 20.5% were public (national or city-run) hospitals and others were private. Eight percent were the hospitals assigned as disaster-base hospitals and the others were non-disaster-base hospitals. Overall compliance to building code, power generators, water tanks, emergency communication tools, and helicopter platforms was 90%, 84%, 95%, 43%, and 22%, respectively.


Major vulnerabilities in logistics in mega-cities and stockpiles required for chronic care emerged from the results of this nationwide surveillance of hospitals in Japan. To conduct further intensive surveillance to meet community health needs, appropriate sampling methods should be established on the basis of this preliminary study. Holistic vulnerability analysis of community hospitals will lead to more robust disaster mitigation at the local level. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2015;9:614–618)

Brief Reports
Copyright © Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. 2015 

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