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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 February 27 - March 4  > Health minister expresses intention to address shortage of doctors
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2008 February 27 - March 4 [LABOR]

Health minister expresses intention to address shortage of doctors

February27, 2008
Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Masuzoe Yoichi has conceded that there is a serious shortage of doctors in Japan and stated the ministry will address the problem. He was answering questions by Japanese Communist Party representative Takahashi Chizuko.

The dearth of doctors is one of the main causes of the collapse of medical services taking place throughout the country.

The ministry has so far said, “Though the distribution of doctors is uneven by region and by hospital department, the number of doctors is sufficient on the whole.”

However, in reply to Takahashi at a House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting on February 26, Masuzoe said, “I don’t think that there are a sufficient number of doctors in our country,” and expressed his intention to consider taking steps to deal with the shortage of doctors by setting up a study group.

Showing the reality of the harsh working conditions of doctors and nurses in hospitals, Takahashi demanded that the government undertake measures to increase the number of doctors without delay.

She also referred to the fact that the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications is promoting the restructuring of local government-run hospitals, and argued, “The need now is to increase the total amount of grants to public hospitals, not the restructuring process.”

“With the problem of the doctor shortage unsolved, neither stable management of public hospitals nor reconstruction of the community healthcare system can be achieved,” said Takahashi.

Internal Affairs Minister Masuda Hiroya admitted that the government should work hard to solve the doctor shortage, saying, “The lack of doctors is negatively affecting management of public hospitals.”
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