Yearly Archives: 2016
16-17 Jun 2016 Radiation Medicine in Research and Practice (4th International Seminar of WHO): Health effects 30 years after Chernobyl, 5 years after Fukushima
The World Health Organization (WHO) Radiation Emergency Medical Preparedness and Assistance Network (REMPAN) convened a two-day seminar at Würzburg University, a REMPAN Collaborating Center, June 16-17, 2016. Fukushima Medical University, a REMPAN Liaison Institution, sent Dr. Shinichi Suzuki and Dr. Atsushi Kumagai to Würzburg as delegates and speakers. Würzburg University has been especially involved in thyroid cancer treatment following the nuclear accident in Chernobyl. As the seminar’s secretariat, Würzburg University was an outstanding venue for information sharing about health effects attributed to Chernobyl and Fukushima. FMU’s Dr. Suzuki presented the latest thyroid ultrasound screening results of children and adolescents in Fukushima. Dr. Kumagai reported 5 years of comprehensive health management for Fukushima residents of all ages, the current status of radiation risk perception, and various challenges residents face. Other speakers from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Japan, France, Germany, Switzerland and the United States provided deep insights into post-Chernobyl and post-Fukushima disaster remediation, along with broadly applicable epidemiological theory and risk-mediation measures.
The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) held 12 Dialogue Seminars for Fukushima Prefecture residents, with other domestic and international participants, from November 2011 to September 2015. These are reported at the ICRP site.
An international workshop on this Dialog Initiative convened in Date City, Fukushima, on 12-13 December 2015, as reported at here.
Most recently, a follow-up study tour and Dialogue Seminar convened in Iitate Village, Fukushima, 9-10 July 2016.
The First day:
International and Japanese experts visited the farm land and homesteads of several residents who have made continuous efforts to restore their pre-3.11 lives and work..
The Second day:
International and Japanese stakeholders, including a local youth, made presentations and had a panel discussion. The participants expressed their views about (1) the many things to do for reconstruction of the village; (2) many evacuees who would not return to the village, especially young people; (3) employment opportunities needed to enable evacuees to return to the village; (4) further decontamination of forest and mountain areas to reassure inhabitants; (5) perception gaps between the government and residents on the situation of the village; (6) diverging views, even among experts, on residual radiation; (7) how restrictions by the government can impede reconstruction; and (8) how new agricultural approaches including farming without soil, and expanding farms would be promising.
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A delegation of traumatic stress experts of Korean institutions including Daegu University, Kyung Hee University and others visited Fukushima Medical University on 20 June 2016, as part of their 19-22 June International Workshop on Prospects of Disaster Mental Health Services. Convening in various locations, this travelling workshop allowed them to research psychological distress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following the Great East Japan Earthquake. FMU’s Department of Disaster Psychiatry and Office of International Cooperation co-organized the visit to our main campus, offering presentations and a facility tour. Representatives of the Fukushima Center for Disaster Mental Health also attended, to discuss their service to residents, whether affected by the earthquake, tsunami, nuclear power plant crisis, or any combination of these. In exchange, we sought the insights of our distinguished Korean colleagues, and benefitted from a healthy dialog over morning, lunch, and afternoon sessions.
IAEA announced a completion of its STS (Science, Technology and Society）Handbook at the meeting in Singapore about STS perspectives on nuclear science, radiation, and human health on June 23-24.
Signpost of Reconstruction： Five Years Forward
To screen or not to screen? Patient and parental autonomy should be respected.
“Is it right to keep screening people without knowing how well they understand the program, but knowing that the result may be a diagnosis of cancer?”
Dr. Sanae Midorikawa, a 48-year-old endocrinologist at Fukushima Medical University (FMU), started a traveling classroom program (出前授業) for children last year. She began to wonder if most children in Fukushima had been screened for thyroid disease without understanding how the examination was intended to protect their health. Dr. Midorikawa holds the rank of Associate Professor in FMU’s Department of Radiation Health Management.
Thyroid screening has been performed for residents of the prefecture who were 18 years old or younger when the nuclear plant accident occurred. Cancer cases have been found in this group, but the Prefectural Oversight Committee, consisting of doctors and other experts, maintains that “It is hard to conclude any influence of radiation as yet.” They point out that mass screening with high sensitivity ultrasound equipment can detect abnormalities that would go unnoticed in the course of routine patient care..
With the fear of radiation widespread among parents, most children in the prefecture have been examined at least once. However, Midorikawa thinks, “it is important to make individual decisions about whether or not to continue screening after parents and children understand what screening can and cannot do.”
Generally, thyroid cancer is curable [even when found incidentally by less sensitive means – Editor], so a “reduction in mortality” by screening is unlikely. On the other hand, there are demerits such as the mental health impact of receiving a cancer diagnosis, for which reason comprehensive thyroid screening is not recommended worldwide. “Five years have passed and now is the time to reconsider our way of screening based on current circumstances.”
In the traveling classroom program, Midorikawa explains that there is a possibility of finding cancer by screening. Then she acknowledges that some people don’t want to be told they have cancer. Especially when actual health risks are not apparent, this decision should also be respected.
Owing to the fear of radiation among prefectural residents, sufficient understanding about the demerits of screening and the informed consent process for screening has not advanced enough. Midorikawa reflects: it was natural that residents thought they should be screened when the nuclear plant accident took place; it was also natural to tie the screening result with radiation, and continue to be afraid, but in retrospect, we may have acted unreasonably.
Thyroid screening is just one of the things parents and children in the prefecture have endured. Chiharu Itoh (age 44), Vice Director of the Fukushima Seedling (芽生え) Kindergarten (Fukushima City) set up a counseling room immediately after the accident, where mothers could discuss their anxieties one-on-one. The issues they discuss range from “Should we leave the prefecture?” to “Should we avoid eating prefectural products?”
Five years on, there have emerged opinions to take the experience positively. “Mothers hope to take advantage in the future of what they have experienced in adverse circumstances.”
Dr. Midorikawa hopes that interacting with children through the traveling classroom program will help them think about other health risks and encourage them to make sensible choices in the future. If so, these five years may prove to have informed their decision-making in a constructive way.
The Fukushima Minyu Shimbun Homepage: http://www.minyu-net.com/news/news/FM20160615-084349.php
The 20 May 2016 Power Point presentation by Kenneth Nollet to members and guests of the Tokyo International Amateur Radio Association (TIARA, http://www.qsl.net/7j1yaa/) is now available. “From 9.11 to 3.11 and Beyond: (Transfusion) Medicine and Amateur Radio” describes how licensed Amateur Radio operators provide emergency communication in support of medical care, including transfusion medicine, during disasters. A similar presentation was made to the Medical Amateur Radio Society of Japan, which convened its 40th general meeting in Fukushima on 23 April. As with Ken’s previous presentations, this one is published in slide-over-note format, with notes approximating what was said with each slide. The third-from-last slide includes a bibliography of relevant publications.
3.11 and Beyond: (Transfusion) Medicine and Amateur Radio
Previous presentations to TIARA can be accessed at these URLs:
Proceedings of the 23rd Prefectural Oversight Committee Meeting for Fukushima Health Management Survey
Proceedings of the 23rd Prefectural Oversight Committee Meeting for Fukushima Health Management Survey were released.
For English translations, click here.
For the original Japanese reports, please visit:
Thirty years have passed since the Chernobyl nuclear accident, and five years since the Fukushima nuclear accident. Building on what we have discussed at previous International Expert Symposiums, this time our theme is, “Chernobyl+30, Fukushima+5: Lessons and Solutions for Fukushima’s Thyroid Question.” At this symposium, we will focus on thyroid cancer issues, deepen everyone’s understanding of the thyroid gland from the standpoint of evidence-based medicine (EBM), and discuss recent situational improvements in Fukushima, as well as the latest thinking about long-term health surveillance in the prefecture.
The schedule of the symposium is as follows:
Date: September 26-27 (Mon-Tue), 2016
Venue: The Celecton Fukushima
Organizer: Nippon Foundation
Co-organizers: Fukushima Medical University, Nagasaki University, Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation
More details will be announced here around the middle of June.
Office of International Cooperation
Radiation Medical Science Center for the Fukushima Health Management Survey
8 Mar 2016 Five Years After the Triple Disaster of March 11, 2011, FMU Held an International Symposium
On March 8, 2016, Fukushima Medical University (FMU) held an international symposium “Five Years Since the Great East Japan Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Crisis – Preserving and Conveying our Memories for Future Generations” to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima nuclear power plant accident. This symposium was planned to share various past efforts with many people toward the reconstruction and revitalization of Fukushima.
In addition to special guests from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), and the World Health Organization (WHO), many other experts from Japan and abroad also attended the symposium.
In a plenary address, Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori explained the revival situation of our prefecture. He also introduced prefectural products that have been favorably received domestically and internationally, and conveyed the charm of Fukushima to the audience.
Following the Governor’s address, guests from the IAEA (Ms. May Abdel-Wahab), ICRP (Mr. Jacques Lochard), UNSCEAR (Mr. Malcolm Crick) and WHO (Ms. Zhanat Carr) gave brief messages to the audience.
In the afternoon session, Mr. Jacques Lochard of ICRP gave a special lecture reporting the results of 12 “Dialogue Seminars” held around Fukushima, which brought experts to the prefecture from around the world, and gave citizens a chance to articulate their fears and hopes for the future.
At the symposium, three local residents of different backgrounds, a housewife and mother, an NPO representative, and a kindergarten teacher, conveyed citizens’ perspectives after overcoming anxieties and hardships in the confusion, and two FMU physicians presented their initiatives and reflections as medical professionals and as mothers.
In a panel discussion following the presentations, five women elaborated on their previous remarks in response to a series of thought-provoking questions. It was a vigorous exchange of opinions from panelists with different backgrounds, united by the common purpose of reconstructing life in Fukushima.
The last speaker was FMU third-year medical student Ms. Moe Sekine, who conveyed the activities of Fukushima WILL, a student initiative that began in response to our triple disaster.
The symposium was an opportunity for people of Fukushima to express their sincere gratitude to the overseas experts who had provided generous support since the accident. Through the present review, FMU would like to express its deepest gratitude to the international organizations and overseas colleagues for their support.