Humanitarian Health Action

FAQs: Japan tsunami concerns

21 March 2011

What are the health concerns?

One of the immediate concerns at the moment is that most of the people affected by the tsunami are elderly people, most of whom have lost their daily medication for conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, epilepsy and asthma. Based on estimates from 2004, in the Tohoku region alone, there are 526 000 persons aged 80 years of age and older, with the largest age group between 50-54 years of age.

Other concerns include diseases and conditions caused by lack of clean water, proper sanitation, crowding of large numbers of people into shelters and the destruction of roads and bridges making it difficult to bring in food, water and medical supplies. In a major tsunami, the very people who would normally provide health care and other life saving services may no longer be able to do so.