Let's fight against welfare cuts: doctors and nurses

Doctors and nurses in the democratic medical movement have resolved to stage a nationwide struggle against the government plan to cut welfare budgets and increase people's burdens. They confirmed this at an annual meeting of the Japan Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions (February 21-23).

About 1,100 delegates denounced the government for planning to increase medical charges for salaried workers by 50 percent from April 2002 (from 20 % to 30 % of the total charges), unprecedented either in postwar Japan or even during World War II.

It was reported that during the past two years, various organizations composed of patients and residents, established by the federation for better medical services, have attracted 2.85 million people, an increase of 0.2 million, and 160 hospitals and sanatoriums have joined it, making up a total of 1,510 affiliates.

Another report said that federation members have collected 2.5 million signatures calling for opposition to the adverse medical service revision.

In Hokkaido, in only one week citizens sent back to the federation 3,000 postcards carrying signatures calling for blocking the plan to impose "30% medical charges." In Osaka, the federation has so far received 5,587 postcards bearing 19,000 such signatures when it inserted leaflets in two million copies of newspapers on February 4 and 5.

The general meeting adopted an action plan, the federation's declaration for better medical care and welfare, a special resolution calling on the public to organize a massive campaign to drive the Koizumi Cabinet into a corner. The meeting elected Hida Yasushi as federation chair.

Addressing doctors and nurses at the meeting, Japanese Communist Party Vice Chair Ishii Ikuko advocated creating a national movement to completely isolate the Koizumi Cabinet. (end)