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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 August 12 - 18  > Non-regular workers hesitate to see doctor due to economic impact of coronavirus pandemic
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2020 August 12 - 18 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Non-regular workers hesitate to see doctor due to economic impact of coronavirus pandemic

August 14, 2020

More and more people are experiencing symptom exacerbation as well as a delay in diagnosis for cancer and other serious illnesses because they hesitate to see a doctor not only due to a fear of COVID-19 infection but also due to financial difficulties caused by the pandemic.

This was shown in survey results recently released by the Japanese Medical and Dental Practitioners for Improvement of Medical Care (Hodanren). The Hodanren survey found out that this tendency was manifested in people working as non-regular workers who are normally in low-paid employment.

The survey results reported various cases of non-regular workers experiencing a delay in diagnosis and symptom aggravation. Among them, there was a case of a male temporary worker in his 30s with diabetes. He visited his doctor in July to receive diabetes care for the first time since the last visit two months ago. At that time, he suffered vision loss in both eyes which resulted from deterioration of his pre-existing condition. Explaining the reason for his reluctance to see a doctor, he said that he lost his job due to the pandemic and thus gave up on getting regular care which he needs to have at least once a fortnight.

Other cases in the survey included a delay in seeking dental treatment due to a COVID-19-induced dismissal and the refusal to have a diagnostic test because of financial difficulty.

In the survey, doctors expressed concern that amid the cloudy outlook to see the end of the fight against COVID-19, refraining from seeking medical help may spread further among non-regular workers and those who became unemployed.

Hodanren deputy secretary general Kudo Mitsuteru said that the need now for the government is to take action to ensure that workers can maintain their jobs and wages. He also demanded that in order to enable people to get proper medical attention under the corona situation, the government must implement measures that include introducing a free medical program for low-income households and households facing income losses.

Furthermore, Kudo referred to the fact that a decrease in the number of outpatients has worsened medical institutions’ financial situation. He said that as the closure of hospitals will deliver a blow to the local healthcare system, the government should improve its support for medical institutions with sufficient provision of protective equipment for healthcare professionals.

Past related articles:
> Many hospitals demand compensation for coronavirus-caused loss of earnings without delay [June 10, 2020]
> JCP proposes direct bailout of individuals affected financially by new coronavirus [March 27, 2020]

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