Tohoku and Kumamoto: Long-Term Medical Issues

by International Medical Crisis Response Alliance
Vetted
Continued thanks for help in Japan
Continued thanks for help in Japan

One particularly good thing about global medical knowledge and expertise is that it only gets better with time.   On July 31st of this year IMCRA held its long-awaited colloquium and workshop focused on lessons learned from the long-term aspects of disaster recovery.

Since that time we have been involved in translating both the presentations given and the the insights gleaned from participants involved in the workshop.

An outstanding finding is that what we are learning about how people survive and react to the aftermath of a horrifying experience is as applicable in the multiduninous refugee camps of Europe and the Mediterranian as it is the homes and hospital rooms of terrorism victims in Nice and now Berlin.  While IMCRA cannot prevent horrors, both manmade and natural, from taking place, we can be instrumental in remedying the havoc they cause worldwide. 

Our goal is to demonstrate, in sharing this expertise worldwide that, despite recent political events in the United States, there remain millions who see beyond short term reactionary furor, and understand that humanity can survive only as a global community which shares knowledge, understanding and compassion.  Please join us in sustaining this effort and hopefully making the future less uncertain.

Reny Juita en route to IMCRA session in Indonesia
Reny Juita en route to IMCRA session in Indonesia
Sharing knowledge in Thailand
Sharing knowledge in Thailand
The healing continues in Japan
The healing continues in Japan
Dr. Shigemura discusses caregiver "overload"
Dr. Shigemura discusses caregiver "overload"

After three years of planning and promotion, IMCRA and our affiliates conducted our fourth major colloquium/workshop in Japan titled: "The Long-Term Caregiver Experience: Patients, Providers, Pragmatics".  The event took place in Sendai City on July 31st and attracted dozens of attendees, both survivors and medical personnel concerned with the long-term aspects of disaster recovery. Equally as important as onsite attendance, the event was televised by the NHK World News network, and was picked up by multiple newspapers and medical journals in Japan.

Five years after the Tohoku event and six months after the Kumamoto earthquake, the need for survivors and caregivers to get together and exchange stories was particularly acute.  What became clear during the colloquium, via the workshop which followed, and in the responses and queries received in the wake of media coverage, it is during the months and years which follow a disaster that the emptiness and loss encountered becomes most tangible and most harmful.  Survivors are impacted by PTSD, environmental disorientation, loss of livelihood and loss of family support networks. Children are frequently adrift in a new world their parents are not fully in control of. In the elderly chronic medication needs are neglected and suicides become distressingly common.  Among the most neglected victims are the medical and psychological professionals who have struggled to help such populations for years.

Unfortunately, there is still very little easily-accessible data on the long-term medical/psychological pitfalls of disaster recovery.  Thus, the most important outcome of this event will be the compiling and synthesis of new and personalized recommendations/guidelines for both caregivers and survivors (often one and the same) to use during the years ahead.  Going further, the experience of Japan can serve as a touchstone for peoples throughout the world experiencing similar disasters.

It took only one look at the relief and release on the faces of our attendees to reassure us that what we were doing now was something long overdue and underealized.   Much of the work still lies ahead though; the workshop data must be compiled and translated, recommendations and guidelines must be created, vetted through our faculty and distributed, the video modules and publications engendered by this and earlier meetings must be effectively disseminated.  Please join us in making this happen rapidly.  Please help us make the future less uncertain for so many.

Dr. Suzuki - Behavioral Therapies
Dr. Suzuki - Behavioral Therapies
Survivors and caregivers share years of experience
Survivors and caregivers share years of experience
Dr Hedberg at the U.N. - Disaster Survivor PTSD
Dr Hedberg at the U.N. - Disaster Survivor PTSD
The resilience of spirit in Japan
The resilience of spirit in Japan

Links:

Poster and Flyer - Sendai 31 July 2016
Poster and Flyer - Sendai 31 July 2016

This is getting exciting!

Only one month to go now to the long-planned IMCRA colloquium and workshop on the long-term caregiver experience, Patients-Providers-Pragmatics.  

We have engaged four excellent faculty, to deliver the keynote addresses:  Dr. Niwa will speak about medical response conditions during the long-term recovery efforts.  Dr. Homma will discuss the impact on children's development during the 5 years since the tsunami.  Drs. Tomita and Suzuki will speak about some of the stresses caregiving teams have experienced as a result of ongoing contact with survivors bearing the burden of disaster.

Perhaps more importantly we will be collecting the stories of those doctors, nurses, psychiatrists and other medical professionals who have travelled the long hard road of continuing care.  Either through physical proximity to the disaster-stricken areas or an unrelenting sense of duty, workshop registrants will share what they've learned and experienced with each other and with their colleagues worldwide.

The colloquium will be broadcast on NHK and covered by several local newspapers.  More importantly the proceedings of the workshop will be made available in the global medical literature.  This fills an important and very deep gap in our understanding of what the committed professional goes through during the long-term treatment of severely impacted populations.

It isn't easy.  Especially in Japan, many are reluctant to talk about the problems they've experienced.  Some are even more reluctant, as medical professionals, to share personal feelings and disappointments.  Yet this information is critical to their colleagues now and in future.  Recruiting registrants throughout Tohoku has been one of our biggest challenges, so we look to you to help us get the word out; through electronic and print media, through word of mouth and via aggressive networking. 

Please help.  The outcome will be a gift to the world.  Let's make it happen!

Elderly still in communal housing
Elderly still in communal housing
Lost families, lost memories
Lost families, lost memories

Links:

Dr. Jun Shigemura
Dr. Jun Shigemura

The Long-Term Caregiver Experience: Patients, Providers, Pragmatics - May 2016

It's a little over 5 years since the great East Japan earthquake and tsunami of 3-11-11.  The event remains unique in history as the only time a populous and technologically-advanced global power was severely disabled by a natural catastrophe. 

Despite all we learned from the disaster, there are serious gaps in our efforts to use the terrible events of 3-11-11 to optimize the response to future catastrophes.  For example, the largely unheralded mobile medical and nursing professionals involved in the recovery effort for several years.  These professionals now form a small and very precious class of people who have developed unique insights into how to best respond to the needs of the populations they have been serving month after month. 

Last year, several IMCRA faculty proposed a colloquium/workshop to capture and organize the experiences of the healthcare providers regularly serving communities in Tohoku - especially Fukushima and Iwate.  This is critically valuable therapeutic information for Japan - and importantly - for the rest of the world.  Our ultimate aim is to gather together what we learn into a Conference Proceedings document which will be published in the American Journal of Disaster Medicine as an important source of reference for long-term healthcare providers worldwide.

Review of the current literature shows that there is precious little available on the longitudinal med and psych aspects of disaster recovery.  The colloquium and workshop is now scheduled to take place in Sendai Japan on the 21st of May 2016.  Your donations and support will help fund travel expenses for attendees and assure that this critically important event takes place.  Following this conference/workshop, what we've learned in Japan will be available to the greater global good.

the need...
the need...
The dedicated
The dedicated

Links:

Dr. Hedberg at ECOSOC
Dr. Hedberg at ECOSOC

On October 15th 2015, IMCRA presented its program for extending free native-language medical resources to needy elderly worldwide as part of the 25th International Day of Older Persons held at the ECOSOC chamber at the U.N.

In line with the General Assembly’s initiative on establishing sustainable development inclusive of those aged 65+, the IMCRA program gives smartphone-using refugee families and their medical providers rapid access to expert, culturally-sensitive acute and preventative care in their native language .

The need for the program is profound especially among the refugees from terror in the Middle East. In disrupted environments, children and the elderly suffer most from the loss of what are often already poor levels of health support and minimal preventative care. IMCRA has been using the wealth of multicultural medical expertise in New York City to serve the neediest through the production of streaming video modules on topics ranging from respiratory and cardiovascular health to preventative vaccinations to lifestyle options.

Our psychosocial faculty are also using the system to reach out to those most in danger of neglected post-traumatic sequelae and behavioral disorders arising from the current chaotic world situation.

We have been requested to report on progress at the ECOSOC summit in 2016.  We hope to report both progress and success in an area sadly lacking in resources.  Both the fighters against evil as well as its victims need our help.  Please help us by supporting this good work

International Day of Older Persons
International Day of Older Persons
The Humble and Helpless
The Humble and Helpless

Links:

 

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Organization Information

International Medical Crisis Response Alliance

Location: Norwalk, Connecticut - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.imcra.net/​
Project Leader:
Thomas G. Hedberg
New York, NY United States
$5,590 raised of $63,000 goal
 
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