In the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE), successful medical and public health coordination by pre-assigned disaster medical coordinators saved many affected people, though the coordination itself had difficulties. This study aims to clarify the implementation and the challenges of disaster medical coordinators in Japan. We performed questionnaire surveillance in 2012 and 2014 to all prefectural government on assignment of disaster medical coordinators, their expected roles and supporting system. Out of all 47 prefectures, assignment or planning of disaster medical coordinators jumped up from four (8.5%) to 43 (91.5%) by the end of 2015. The most expected role is the coordination with Japan Disaster Medical Assistant Team (DMAT) and with other early responders. The evacuation center management, public health coordination and preparedness before disaster are less frequently expected. The supporting materials, human resource, and tools for communication vary according to the prefecture. Successful implementation requires the effort of health and governmental stakeholders. The coordination between prefectural and local coordinators and the coordination between medical and public health authorities still need to be improved. The roles of disaster medical coordinators depend on the local context and types of hazards. Education and training to build fundamental capacity is necessary. In conclusion, Japanese disaster medical system rapidly implemented disaster medical coordinator after GEJE. Their roles and standardization are challenging, but education, training and systematic support by the local government will enhance the effective preparedness and response of the health sector in disasters.
- Capacity building
- Disaster medical coordinator
- Sendai framework for disaster risk reduction
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)