April 7, 2011

AMDA reports that it will start supporting the rehabilitation of schools in the region. To start, AMDA is preparing “back-to-school” kits containing stationery and school bags. AMDA is also helping the local economy by employing 12 local residents as drivers, caregivers, and operational staff. They are able to use these individuals’ knowledge of the local geography and communities to facilitate AMDA’s relief efforts. AMDA is also working with foreign medical organizations to establish a scholarship program for local high school students who are hoping to become doctors and nurses in the future.

NICCO reported on the past few weeks of activity at the Tohoku International Clinic in Natori (Miyagi Prefecture). This clinic opened just last year and is headed by Dr. Kuwayama, a psychiatrist who serves as an advisor to NICCO and has worked with the NGO on a number of overseas missions. This time, the disaster came to him: Dr. Kuwayama’s clinic was damaged by a foot of water from the tsunami. Nonetheless, with most other medical facilities closed, the clinic reopened for business the next day and began treating victims 24/7. NICCO set up its base at Dr. Kuwayama’s clinic and began sending medical teams to the region. Other NGOs also came to the clinic and they created joint teams that have been coordinating medical assistance to various regions. Media and university-related personnel have also come to the clinic, making it a hub for information sharing.

By the start of April, some medical facilities were resuming operations, so the clinic stopped its round-the-clock work and the NGOs began moving on to the next phase of their work. NICCO has shifted some of its focus from Natori to Rikuzentakata, where the needs remain great. Kansai Medical University’s Department of Public Health has been sending doctors on a one-week rotation, and they are providing mobile clinic services.

This week, NICCO has begun focusing on mental health care as well as medical health. It is able to provide counseling by clinical psychologists and other experts as part of its mobile clinics, but in order to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder, they are hoping to begin psycho-social care designed for children in particular.