FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line

Special InterviewTragedy to TriumphFUKUSHIMA: Lives on the Line159——The new center established by FMU as a base for recovery efforts also include a human resource development division, right?Kikuchi: Yes, that is right. The center has five built-in features. One of them is an educational program for the long-term development of personnel for disaster medicine instruction and research. This program includes lecture courses on thyroid endocrinology and mental health care for disaster victims, among others. In addition, to create jobs we are considering invigorating health care-related industries. This type of job creation will contribute to maintaining the population of Fukushima and building up the work force.Challenges of the Aging Population Exposed to the Disaster ——This discussion has really changed my understanding of the FMU faculty and deepened my awareness of the present and future.Kikuchi: Fukushima Prefecture must develop a vision for handling the aging society as well. In the existing social system, patients receive medical care only if they have access to it. Henceforth, administrative and elder-care services will approach patients proactively, without waiting for patients to approach them. Such will be the trend in the future. This natural disaster has exposed the vulnerabilities of our social structure. The directionality has to shift. A considerable number of disaster victims have lost their very livelihoods. Therefore, as in the case of the aging population, social services have to reach out to disaster victims as well, and not vice versa. This is the “Fukushima model.” Five to ten years hence, we intend for it to be implemented throughout the country, despite being an experiment. This is a challenging, historic task for us. More than ever, the world is looking at Fukushima. We have to move forward believing that we can triumph over the earthquake and tsunami, no matter what hurdles stand in our way.End of Interview�Yumi TakadaI got the feeling that Fukushima has a strong future to look forward to. Chairman Kikuchi and the FMU medical team have collaborated to march forward and serve as rallying figures. The delays in the health surveys have been an issue, but the nuclear accident was beyond the country’s expectations. The medical and health care systems were insufficient both in terms of manpower and facilities. But all my doubts have been erased. The medical examinations currently conducted for children are receiving maximum commitment. Despite being small in number, the FMU faculty is working at full capacity, day and night, to painstakingly conduct thorough examinations. And that is not all. The university is currently on a mission to send out to the world a new “Fukushima model” that is on the forefront of radiation and medical expertise. These ongoing efforts make me proud to be a citizen of Fukushima and fill me with the desire to stand tall and, in the words of Dr. Kikuchi, turn Fukushima’s tragedy into triumph.