[Tuberculosis care and new horizon of Japanese society]

Nobukatsu Ishikawa, Naohiro Nagayama
Kekkaku: [Tuberculosis] 2012, 87 (4): 367-81
Current tuberculosis (TB) problems are reflections of Japanese society. Living or dying alone among the elderly, difficulty in finding jobs or withdrawal into themselves among the youths are features of modem society. The future needs for TB care were discussed on specific topics of TB among the elderly, foreigners and the homeless. Presenters showed the importance of the patient-centered care in collaboration with public health and welfare services. Both patients and staffs will see others shining, as they touch each other in the deep part of human existence. A diabetic ex-TB patient talked his experience in his treatment. His window of mind was gradually opened from inside with the continuous support in DOTS by the staff of the public health center. To accumulate these experiences of a heartwarming atmosphere will have the effective power on establishment of social supporting systems. This symposium can be a step towards humanized society or a new horizon of public health which can answer to another need of inner cry of a sick people particularly among the socially disadvantaged who are the victims of the weakness of society. 1. Current situation and issues of elderly tuberculosis patients: Eriko SHIGETO (NHO Higashihiroshima Medical Center). By the analysis of 102 tuberculosis patients of 70 years old and above who were registered at Hiroshima Prefectural Health Center in 2009, 41 patients had severe complications such as diabetes mellitus, renal insufficiency, malignancy or cerebrovascular disorder. Their prognosis was rather poor and the ADL tended to be worsened during hospitalization. Though 16 of the 34 deaths were caused with non-tuberculosis diseases, the ratio of the tuberculosis deaths was higher (4/17) among the patients living alone. Sufficient care of the elderly for early diagnosis, care system to treat various complications and patient support are required. 2. Provision of medical interpreters to help foreigners with tuberculosis in Tokyo: Takashi SAWADA (Services for Health in Asian & African Regions (SHARE)). In 2006, Tokyo Metropolitan Government started to dispatch interpreters for foreigners to strengthen DOTS program. Collaboration with NGOs made it possible to train 37 volunteer interpreters, and to provide services in 13 languages, as of 2010. In Japan, the treatment defaulter rate among non-Japanese tuberculosis patients had been remarkably high. But with having the assistance of interpreters, the treatment completion rate has become higher than 80%. It is recommended to expand a similar system to other part of Japan, as the proportion of foreigners among total tuberculosis cases keeps on increasing nationwide. 3. Tuberculosis problems in Japan from the view point of homelessness-through the activities of a NPO supporting the homeless in collaboration with a public health center: Sadako KANAZAWA (Volunteer, NPO Medical Care Team of Shinjuku Renraku-Kai). It has been 20 years since the issue of homelessness emerged in Japanese society. The people with a history of both tuberculosis and experience of homelessness tend to show a poor prognosis. Our team has played an active role, working with Shinjuku Public Health Center for conducting a screening for tuberculosis every year. It seems that the screening service itself does not make a fundamental solution for homeless people with tuberculosis. Developing a more basic system of 'from street to apartment' is more essential. We believe that understanding the importance of the system is most essential to the people who are involved in health and medical care. 4. What we have learned from DOTS--Toward care by cuddling the patient's mind: Kazuyo ARIMA (PHN, Osaka City Public Health Center). Osaka City has achieved the goals of DOTS set up by the City's TB Control Guidelines since 2001 such as 80% DOTS implementation rate, halving the defaulter rate and incidence rate. It was shown by analysis that the treatment success depends on 'patient's awareness of the disease', 'appropriate DOTS method for each patient', 'existence of side effects', or 'the relationship between treatment supporters'. Through working for the patients whose treatment management was difficult, we have learned that our attitude towards the patients is a most important first step to build a good relationship and mutual trust with the patients, and DOT is an important tool. For treatment supporters,'the patient-centered care', 'care by staying close to the patients' or 'cuddling the patient' s mind' is most necessary to lead the patients to cure. 5. Patient's view: Through DOTS, my life has been renewed: Kuniyoshi MAEDA (Himawari no kai; Ex-homeless TB patients self-help group). It is an unforgettable memory that I was hospitalized due to TB back in 2009. I was seriously ill with also diabetes mellitus. Because I had lost everything due to my friend's cheating, I could not trust anyone before the TB treatment. But I learned how to think of others through the daily communication with doctors, nurses, other staff at the hospital, and Public Health Center. They encouraged me every day and I came to desire to answer to their expectations. Public health nurses taught me that building the reliable relationship is so essential for humans, and I may not have realized this importance if I had not been treated for TB, or treated outside Shinjuku. I would rather say that I was lucky to have got TB, as I have become able to trust other people through DOTS TB care. DOTS is not only for medication, but also general health care and counseling. I hope that as many as poor people, especially homeless can have a similar experience by knowing more about TB and using a health service. I would like to cooperate with TB services if I can be useful. health: Toshio TAKATORIGE (Graduate School of Safety Science, Kansai University). Tuberculosis was ever the biggest health problem in Japan. Ministry of Health and Welfare and Public Health Centers were founded to push forward tuberculosis control. Local governments, companies and people had to follow the national tuberculosis control program uniformly without exception. Currently a new stream of tuberculosis control has been started by DOTS strategy. The aim of DOTS has made all patients take medicine regardless of their social conditions until cure. Every patient is snuggled up and supported whether he is homeless, criminal or a foreigner. The patients also participate in the program actively. The DOTS may be a new public health movement. The strong public health infrastructure is necessary to maintain tuberculosis control towards the low incidence situation. The role of the local government should be more important. This symposium has also shown that the tuberculosis services must be patients-centered and supported by the people, addressing a new horizon of public health in Japan through tuberculosis control.

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