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Behaviors to avoid infection are key to minimizing casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even so, infection-avoidance behavior may also cause distant health impacts like immobility and obesity. This research aims at identifying behavioral patterns associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection, exercise habits, and being overweight in the Japanese population.
Nationwide online questionnaires were conducted five times from October 2020 to October 2021. Individuals who answered with consistency to have been diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 at a medical facility were categorized into a SARS-CoV-2 group. The difference in lifestyle is compared using multiple regression and inverse probability weighing. In addition, the change in exercise habits, body mass index (BMI), and status of overweight (BMI>25kg/m2) were compared between the first questionnaire and the later ones. Risk factors of losing exercise habits or developing overweight were analyzed using multiple regression.
Diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 was negatively correlated with crowd avoidance, mask wearing, hand washing behavior. On the contrary, the diagnosis was positively correlated with some behaviors that appear as preventive actions against the infection, such as changing clothes frequently, sanitizing belongings, and remote working. Regarding exercise habit and overweight, people with high income and elderly females showed higher risk of decreased exercise days. The proportion of overweight was increased from 22.2% to 26.6% in males and from 9.3% to 10.8% in females. Middle-aged males, elderly females, males who experienced SARS-CoV-2 infection were at higher risks of developing overweight.
It is important to conduct an evidence-based intervention on people’s behaviors and to avoid excessive intervention that is less effective so that people can minimize indirect harm such as exhaustion, economic loss, and other chronic health impacts. Our findings suggest that high-risk groups of COVID-19 infection and immobility and/or overweight are quite different. Further research may enable us to establish more effective interventions for each group.
In April 2017, some of the health impacts of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunamis, and resultant Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster (Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan) were presented at the 19th Congress of the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine (WADEM; Madison, Wisconsin USA) in Toronto, Canada. A panel discussion was then opened by asking audience members about their experiences in their own countries, and how they would suggest taking steps to reach the goals of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. This paper summarizes the presentation and panel discussion, with a particular focus on the common problems identified in understanding and reducing health risks from disasters in multiple countries, such as the ethical and practical difficulties in decision making on evacuating vulnerable populations that arose similarly during the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 and Hurricane Ike’s approach to Galveston (Texas USA) in 2008. This paper also highlights the need for greater integration of research, for example through increased review and collation of evidence from different disaster settings to identify common problems and possible solutions, which was identified in this panel session as a precursor to fulfilling the goals of the Sendai Framework.
Leppold C, Ochi S, Nomura S, Murray V. The Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunamis, and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster: lessons for evidence integration from a WADEM 2017 presentation and panel discussion. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2018;33(4):424–427
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)
Although much attention is now being paid to the health risks associated with nuclear disasters, reliable information is lacking. We retrospectively evaluated the health effects of living in highly contaminated radioactive areas in Japan.
The health evaluation was conducted in Tamano district, Fukushima prefecture, in 2011 and 2012. The surface deposition density of cesium in Tamano was 600 to 1000 kBq/m2 shortly after the Fukushima nuclear accident. Clinical parameters included body mass index, blood pressure, and laboratory examinations for blood cell counts, glucose levels, and lipid profiles. A screening program for internal and external exposure was also implemented.
One hundred fifty-five residents participated in the health evaluation. Significant decreases in average body mass index and blood pressure were observed from 2011 to 2012. Annual internal exposure levels did not exceeded 1 mSv in any participants. The levels of external exposure ranged from 1.3 to 4.3 mSv/y measured in the first test period but decreased to 0.8 to 3.6 mSv/y in the second test period.
These findings suggest that inhabiting nuclear contaminated areas is not always associated with short-term health deterioration and that radiation exposure can be controlled within safety limitations. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;10:34–37)
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)
When disasters that affect a wide area occur, external medical relief teams play a critical role in the affected areas by helping to alleviate the burden caused by surging numbers of individuals requiring health care. Despite this, no system has been established for managing deployed medical relief teams during the subacute phase following a disaster.
After the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, the Ishinomaki Medical Zone was the most severely-affected area. Approximately 6,000 people died or were missing, and the immediate evacuation of approximately 120,000 people to roughly 320 shelters was required. As many as 59 medical teams came to participate in relief activities. Daily coordination of activities and deployment locations became a significant burden to headquarters. The Area-based/Line-linking Support System (Area-Line System) was thus devised to resolve these issues for medical relief and coordinating activities.
A retrospective analysis was performed to examine the effectiveness of the medical relief provided to evacuees using the Area-Line System with regards to the activities of the medical relief teams and the coordinating headquarters. The following were compared before and after establishment of the Area-Line System: (1) time required at the coordinating headquarters to collect and tabulate medical records from shelters visited; (2) time required at headquarters to determine deployment locations and activities of all medical relief teams; and (3) inter-area variation in number of patients per team.
The time required to collect and tabulate medical records was reduced from approximately 300 to 70 minutes/day. The number of teams at headquarters required to sort through data was reduced from 60 to 14. The time required to determine deployment locations and activities of the medical relief teams was reduced from approximately 150 hours/month to approximately 40 hours/month. Immediately prior to establishment of the Area-Line System, the variation of the number of patients per team was highest. Variation among regions did not increase after establishment of the system.
This descriptive analysis indicated that implementation of the Area-Line System, a systematic approach for long-term disaster medical relief across a wide area, can increase the efficiency of relief provision to disaster-stricken areas.
YamanouchiS, IshiiT, MorinoK, FurukawaH, HozawaA, OchiS, KushimotoS. Streamlining of Medical Relief to Areas Affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake with the “Area-based/Line-linking Support System”Prehosp Disaster Med. 2014;29(6):1-9.
In catastrophic events, a key to reducing health risks is to maintain functioning of local health facilities. However, little research has been conducted on what types and levels of care are the most likely to be affected by catastrophic events.
The Great East Japan Earthquake Disaster (GEJED) was one of a few “megadisasters” that have occurred in an industrialized society. This research aimed to develop an analytical framework for the holistic understanding of hospital damage due to the disaster.
Hospital damage data in Miyagi Prefecture at the time of the GEJED were collected retrospectively. Due to the low response rate of questionnaire-based surveillance (7.7%), publications of the national and local governments, medical associations, other nonprofit organizations, and home web pages of hospitals were used, as well as literature and news sources. The data included information on building damage, electricity and water supply, and functional status after the earthquake. Geographical data for hospitals, coastline, local boundaries, and the inundated areas, as well as population size and seismic intensity were collected from public databases. Logistic regression was conducted to identify the risk factors for hospitals ceasing inpatient and outpatient services. The impact was displayed on maps to show the geographical distribution of damage.
Data for 143 out of 147 hospitals in Miyagi Prefecture (97%) were obtained. Building damage was significantly associated with closure of both inpatient and outpatient wards. Hospitals offering tertiary care were more resistant to damage than those offering primary care, while those with a higher proportion of psychiatric care beds were more likely to cease functioning, even after controlling for hospital size, seismic intensity, and distance from the coastline.
Implementation of building regulations is vital for all health care facilities, irrespective of function. Additionally, securing electricity and water supplies is vital for hospitals at risk for similar events in the future. Improved data sharing on hospital viability in a future event is essential for disaster preparedness.
OchiS, NakagawaA, LewisJ, HodgsonS, MurrayV. The Great East Japan Earthquake Disaster: Distribution of Hospital Damage in Miyagi Prefecture. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2014;29(3):1-8.
Telecommunication systems are important for sharing information among health institutions to successfully provide medical response following disasters.
The aim of this study was to clarify the problems associated with telecommunication systems in the acute phase of the Great East Japan Earthquake (March 11, 2011).
All 72 of the secondary and tertiary emergency hospitals in Miyagi Prefecture were surveyed to evaluate the telecommunication systems in use during the 2011 Great Japan Earthquake, including satellite mobile phones, multi-channel access (MCA) wireless systems, mobile phones, Personal Handy-phone Systems (PHS), fixed-line phones, and the Internet. Hospitals were asked whether the telecommunication systems functioned correctly during the first four days after the earthquake, and, if not, to identify the cause of the malfunction. Each telecommunication system was considered to function correctly if the hospital staff could communicate at least once in every three calls.
Valid responses were received from 53 hospitals (73.6%). Satellite mobile phones functioned correctly at the highest proportion of the equipped hospitals, 71.4%, even on Day 0. The MCA wireless system functioned correctly at the second highest proportion of the equipped hospitals. The systems functioned correctly at 72.0% on Day 0 and at 64.0% during Day 1 through Day 3. The main cause of malfunction of the MCA wireless systems was damage to the base station or communication lines (66.7%). Ordinary (personal or general communication systems) mobile phones did not function correctly at any hospital until Day 2, and PHS, fixed-line phones, and the Internet did not function correctly at any area hospitals that were severely damaged by the tsunami. Even in mildly damaged areas, these systems functioned correctly at <40% of the hospitals during the first three days. The main causes of malfunction were a lack of electricity (mobile phones, 25.6%; the Internet, 54.8%) and damage to the base stations or communication lines (the Internet, 38.1%; mobile phones, 56.4%).
Results suggest that satellite mobile phones and MCA wireless systems are relatively reliable and ordinary systems are less reliable in the acute period of a major disaster. It is important to distribute reliable disaster communication equipment to hospitals and plan for situations in which hospital telecommunications systems do not function.
KudoD, FurukawaH, NakagawaA, AbeY, WashioT, ArafuneT, SatoD, YamanouchiS, OchiS, TominagaT, KushimotoS. Reliability of Telecommunications Systems Following a Major Disaster: Survey of Secondary and Tertiary Emergency Institutions in Miyagi Prefecture During the Acute Phase of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2014;29(1):1-5.
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