TOO MANY DENTISTS, TOO FEW PHYSICIANS

The Japan Medical Association (JMA), once the most powerful lobby group with mighty political clout, still clings to its position of staunchly opposing any scheme to increase the number of doctors, in order to protect its own vested interests.

At a recent series of meetings of a study group sponsored by the health and welfare ministry, diametrically opposed views were expressed on whether the nation needs more doctors. Leading the proponents of increasing the number of medical students was Kozo Imai, head of the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Medical Science. He argued that unless drastic measures are taken, areas like Hokkaido will face an acute shortage of medical doctors.

Toshio Nakagawa, JMA vice president, countered by saying that a further increase in the number of doctors would force them into the same plight as dentists, whose incomes have been dwindling because there are too many dentists. With Prime Minister Mori throwing her support behind the JMA, it appeared as though a plan for new medical schools had hit a snag.

In Chiba, the number of physicians younger than 60 years of age per 1,000 residents 75 years of age or older stood at 14.08 in 2010. That is projected to dwindle to 8.05 in 2030. Comparable figures for Saitama are 13.30 and 6.77; Ibaraki’s numbers are 11.51 and 7.19. Tokyo has better ratios of 23.02 and 18.02. Having seen these numbers, one doctor lamented that unless the situation is rectified drastically, there would be an increasing number of elderly persons who wouldn’t receive medical treatment and would die in solitude.

Kanagawa Prefecture, with a population of 9.06 million, just south of Tokyo, also faces acute shortages. There are only four medical schools in the prefecture — the same number as in Fukushima Prefecture, which has fewer than 2 million people. The ratio of doctors for the population around Atsugi City, Kanagawa Prefecture, is said to be lower than that of Egypt or Syria.

The once powerful JMA may well be headed toward its doomsday, in step with Japan’s deteriorating medical services.

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NOT THAT YOU CARE – NOR SHOULD YOU

The United States plans to keep its arsenal of chemical weapons for many years to come, as it seeks to extend the deadline set by the international Chemical Weapons Convention. The US has asked for a decade-long extension to the convention deadline which obliges signatory-states to dismantle their chemical weapons by the end of April 2012. Iran, as one of the main victims of chemical weapons, says the US will be found in non-compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention and has called on Washington to abide by international law.

Al Jazeera 2011-11-25: Security forces are said to have killed a senior military commander of India’s Maoist rebels in the country’s eastern jungle, the Indian government has said. Koteshwar Rao, known as Kishenji, had fought a three-year battle with the state governments of West Bengal and Jharkhand. According to the government, he was shot dead after a 30-minute gunfight in the Burisole forests of West Midnapore district, 10km from the Bengal-Jharkhand border. Kishenji was known to be the third in command of the Maoist guerrillas and would be the latest in a series of senior leaders of the movement..

New Zealand Herald 2011-11-23: International donors have been accused of turning a blind eye to the corrupt fire sale of the mineral wealth of the Democratic Republic of Congo in advance of next week’s election in the blighted Central African nation. Documents disclosed by a British MP indicate that the DRC, one of the poorest countries in the world, has lost US$5.5 billion ($7.3 billion) in state assets in a series of secret mining deals.
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