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Japan Recovery: Crucial Health Care Gaps Filled with Temporary Clinics, Expanded Mental Health Support

  • July 1, 2011

AmeriCares continues to roll out long-term programs to make a difference in the lives of the people in the Tohoku region of  Japan, by launching new initiatives to overcome reconstruction challenges, and adding needed programs that focus on psychosocial support, resettlement, and health care capacity building.  Help us help Japan recover and rebuild »The challenges:

  • Terrain: 70 percent of Japan is mountainous, posing numerous obstacles to reconstruction goals further inland that would reduce the impact in the event of future disasters.
  • Emotional issues of resettlement: Survivors are adamant about resettling as communities along with families and neighbors, particularly the elderly, for whom the village remains Japan’s primary social unit. This component of resettling is especially crucial to social and emotional well-being in the aftermath of traumatic disaster. As a result, individual temporary houses are empty as survivors remain in crowded communal shelters.
  • Construction delays: Construction of temporary health care clinics remains stalled with 4-6 month lag times due shortages of in-country building supplies as well as logistical issues.
AmeriCares Sendai-based coordinator, Noriko Sugino, and volunteer Christopher Craig look across an area where the tsunami leveled homes in Miyagi prefecture. Photo by Chiba Mikio. All Rights Reserved.

Photo by Chiba Mikio. All Rights Reserved.AmeriCares Sendai-based coordinator, Noriko Sugino, and volunteer Christopher Craig look across an area where the tsunami leveled homes in Miyagi prefectureOur response:Leveraging our strong relationships with the Japanese government and local NGOs, AmeriCares has developed two program approaches to address these problems:

  1. Bring health care facilities to Tohoku: AmeriCares is pursuing the purchase of high-quality, temporary clinics for Japanese medical and dental providers that have lost their facilities to the tsunami.  We are working closely with the local government health system planning units to determine the ideal location for each possible clinic.
  2. Provide needed mental health care support: AmeriCares is partnering with Tokyo English Life Line (TELL), a leading Tokyo-based NGO, to expand its mental health outreach in Japan. TELL is using an AmeriCares grant for Psychological First Aid (PFA) training to enhance skills among local teachers, parents, and first responders in the relief efforts; this training is based on an international best practice in local mental health services. In addition, TELL has created a nurturing environment to help children, the elderly, and survivors recover more quickly by discussing their experiences and fears among trusted family and friends. This approach is especially crucial to success in light of the shortage of local health care providers as well as the Japanese tendency to refrain from discussing personal issues with outsiders.  AmeriCares is offering additional funding for other mental health based organizations that are providing psychosocial support. 

Our commitment to the people of Japan remains steadfast – we’ve recently expanded our team to include two full-time in-country relief experts to enhance our ability to assist survivors. Looking ahead, AmeriCares will have a sustained presence in the Tohoku region, with continued focus on behavioral health, resettlement, the well-being of the elderly, and maternal and newborn health.Read MoreDonate Now