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Chapter 6
Efforts for Protecting Health and Safety
and Improvement of Living Environment

Section 1. Efforts for Health Crisis Management

Taking prompt and appropriate measures against health crisis threatening the life and health of the Japanese people - including the outbreak of new types of influenza, large scale food-poisoning caused by Entero-hemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 and criminal cases involving poisonous and deleterious substances - has emerged as our grave responsibility.

In light of this, the Ministry of Health and Welfare has decided to communicate health-damages caused by infectious diseases, food-poisoning, drinking water, pharmaceuticals, etc. among related departments and bureaus, to take prompt and appropriate measures for health risk management. The fundamental system for such efforts is presented in "Fundamental Principles in Health Crisis Management". In the meantime, "Health Risk Management Coordination Conference" (MHW's Coordination Conference for Crisis and Consequence Management in Health) functions as a liaison meeting among different departments and bureaus.

Under the system, at ordinary times including holidays and nights, efforts are made for collecting information on health-damages including infectious diseases through an established communications network. It has also been agreed that in serious health-damage cases, if any, the headquarters for countermeasures will be organized and staff members and experts will be sent to the spot, while information on health damages is provided to the people.

In addition, director's meetings of prefectural governments are held while training and study courses concerning health damage management is provided to prefectural government officials, to establish a health-damage management scheme in each region.

In 1998, criminal cases using poisonous and deleterious substances, etc. broke out in succession, which were triggered by the case of poisonous substance mixed in curry and rice in Wakayama City. As for poisonous and deleterious substances, efforts have been traditionally made under the Poisonous and Deleterious Substances Control Law for the prevention of health damages, through on-site investigations of business establishments, etc. Nonetheless, it is necessary to control more strictly the uses of poisonous and deleterious substances to prevent uses of such substances for criminal purposes. It is also important to take measures from the viewpoints of emergency medical treatment, health, food, and so forth. Accordingly, the Ministry of Health and Welfare held the Health Risk Management Coordination Conference to send staff members to the locale and decide upon the measures to be taken by the ministry. The ministry also implements a variety of essential measures in cooperation with other related ministries, in response to the organization of the Conference on Poisonous and Deleterious Substances Control Measures under the Cabinet Secretariat. In the concrete, sodium azide has been added to the list of poisonous and deleterious substances, inspection and guidance are being given in cooperation with prefectural governments and related institutions, and manuals for the prevention of thefts of poisonous and deleterious substances have been prepared for business operators. In addition, measures for securing safety in distributed food are being promoted while countermeasures to be taken at times of health crises by the national and local governmentse have been expanded and upgraded. Thus, comprehensive measures are being promoted.

Figure 6-1-1. Establishment of Health Risk Management Scheme

Establishment of Health Risk Management Scheme

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