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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 September 16 - 29  > 80% of public health centers fight against COVID-19 crisis understaffed
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2020 September 16 - 29 [LABOR]

80% of public health centers fight against COVID-19 crisis understaffed

September 25, 2020

A survey by the Japan Federation of Prefectural and Municipal Workers’ Unions (Jichiroren) found that in April, more than 80% of public health centers across Japan fought against COVID-19 while being understaffed.

In the survey, 64.5% of respondent public health institutions said that in April, when the state of emergency was declared throughout Japan, the number of staff was “totally insufficient” to deal with the situation and 19.4% responded “slightly insufficient.” Furthermore, the percentage of those who said that they faced a labor shortage even under ordinary circumstances exceeded 60%.

In the same survey, asked about unpaid overwork of regular health nurses, 12.9% of the respondent facilities said that the number of hours of unpaid overtime “drastically increased” while 32.3% said “relatively increased.”

Based on its findings, Jishiroren recently published a proposal calling for expanding the capacity of PCR testing and implementing measures to eliminate the myriad difficulties public health centers are facing.

Stating that it is necessary to strengthen the PCR testing system as a measure to curb the spread of COVID-19, the union stressed that in order to achieve this, the national and local governments should review their current policies and increase their support for public health centers so that they can fully carry out their functions.

Specifically, Jichiroren urged the government to change the existing guidelines and to improve public access to community-based health centers. The union demanded that having one health center per 100,000 population as the ultimate target, the government move to build one health center per 200,000 population without delay.

In addition, Jichiroren stressed the need to strengthen the capacities of public health facilities, including the National Institute of Infectious Diseases and local infectious diseases surveillance centers, as they play a vital role in dealing with infectious diseases. The union also pointed out that the central government should allocate a sufficient budget to prevent inequalities between municipalities in the public health care system.

Past related article:
> Public health centers overwhelmed with excessive workloads due to COVID-19 outbreak [April 30, 2020]
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