Restoring Health in Japan: Dental Clinics Bring Back Care to a Devastated Region

In the northern towns of Shizugawa and Utatsu, Japan, the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 wiped away everything familiar — including much of the health care infrastructure.   As an important step in rebuilding the region’s health care system, AmeriCares recently supported the construction of two dental clinics, bringing 10,000 survivors access to treatment.  

This program is one of several longer-term health initiatives that AmeriCares has helped to identify and develop, working with key partners in efforts to restore health care. 

In addition to the immediate health benefits, the clinics also bring crucial jobs and a measure of hope back to the devastated region. The husband and wife dental team who run the newly-opened Shizugawa clinic lost their home and practice following the quake, and spent weeks living in their car with no food and little heat as snow blanketed the land.

Along with many professionals in the area, the dentists feared having to relocate to find a job. Thanks to the clinics, they can stay in Minamisanriku and provide care for their friends and neighbors.

Our work in Japan began immediately after the catastrophe, as our emergency response team coordinated the delivery of relief supplies and medicines to evacuation centers and hospitals.  In August our Japan team opened an office in Sendai to serve as a base for distributing over $8 million in aid.  Now the team is focused on targeted programs for the region, addressing specific needs ranging from dental to mental health services. Over the next three years, AmeriCares is committed to revitalizing and expanding care for survivors.