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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 April 22 - May 12  > Public health centers overwhelmed with excessive workloads due to COVID-19 outbreak
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2020 April 22 - May 12 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Public health centers overwhelmed with excessive workloads due to COVID-19 outbreak

April 30, 2020
Public health centers which function as the hub of the ongoing fight against COVID-19 in communities are overwhelmed with excessive workloads due to the virus outbreak. Top members of the Japanese Association of Public Health Center Directors in turn reported on this situation on April 25 at an online press conference hosted by the Japan National Press Club.

With the ongoing coronavirus crisis, public health centers are required by law to carry out wide-ranging duties which include the operation of government-set call centers for Japanese returnees and potential contacts, coordination of a visit of patients suspected with COVID-19 to medical facilities designated for Japanese returnees and close contact persons, and giving advice to and information sharing with municipal authorities.

At the Web press conference, the public health center directors’ organization explained the results of its urgent survey conducted between March and April.

According to the results, the largest portion (66%) of respondent centers said that they run the returnees/contacts counselling center around the clock and 53% said that health service workers can hardly take time off in compensation for overtime. The survey results also show that health nurses made up 80% of health center staff assigned to the returnees/contacts call center.

Vice president of the health center directors’ association Shirai Chika, who also heads the public health center in Osaka’s Hirakata City, said, “In Hirakata City with a population of 400,000, there are only five health nurses dealing with infectious diseases. Amid the coronavirus crisis, they have to work day and night.” Association president Uchida Katsuhiko stressed that the urgent need is to eliminate the understaffing situation at public health centers.

The association plans to push the national government and prefectural governments to establish a broad-based system for gathering information regarding the regional outbreak of COVID-19 and securing hospital beds, implement financial measures to ease the shortage of health service workers, and take measures to ensure a stable supply of necessary equipment.

Past related article:
> JCP Koike talks about prevention of healthcare collapse over coronavirus outbreak and need to increase testing rate [April 11, 2020]
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