After the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on 11 March, MdM has from the early days been studying the different ways and areas in which the organisation can intervene to help people in disaster-hit zones. The exploratory mission has been conducted by MdM Japan’s team present on the ground and by Japanese medical volunteers.
Many people affected by the disaster are exhausted from living in temporary shelters : a lack of sanitation and of access to water and heating is encouraging the development of respiratory diseases, especially among the most vulnerable, such as elderly people, pregnant women and children, and is making monitoring the treatment of chronic diseases more problematic.
Many victims also show signs of psychological distress and suffering.
After consultation with national and local health authorities, MdM is launching a primary health care and psychological care programme in Otsuchi, in the Iwate Prefecture, in the north-east of the country.
MdM teams, composed of psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors, nurses, social workers and logistics experts, are setting up consultations in shelters, hospitals and houses in this town which has been extremely badly hit (8,000 out of 16,000 inhabitants have reportedly died).
This is a long-term programme and MdM teams will work in the town of Otsuchi for at least the next 3 months.
Médecins du Monde/Doctors of the World has been working in Japan since 1995 when an MdM association was created following the earthquake in Kobé. The programme underway in Tokyo is based on support, and medical and psychological care in particular, for homeless people.