Hiroshima Prefectural Medical Association to begin health checkups of A-bomb survivors in North America

by Junpei Fujimura, Staff Writer

The Hiroshima Prefectural Medical Association will provide atomic bomb survivors (hibakusha) in North America with health checkups in September and October. These checkups had been postponed due to concerns involving the new strain of influenza. Although the health checkups, which have been carried out every other year since 1977, will be conducted about four months behind the original schedule, a more serious interruption was averted.

Two teams of doctors and administrative staff members, 22 personnel in all, will leave successively for North America from September 16, and examine roughly 450 hibakusha in the four cities of Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. The teams plan to conduct checks for cancer and perform electrocardiography.

This is the 17th round of health checkups in North America, originally planned for May and June. However, due to the spread of the new influenza in that part of the world, the Hiroshima Prefectural Medical Association postponed the checkups in consideration of the risk involved in gathering elderly hibakusha at medical institutions. Though the outbreak of flu has not yet subsided, the association decided to conduct the health checkups now, as the danger of the new influenza is said to be low and the flu epidemic might spread further this winter.

Dr. Makoto Matsumura, 59, a resident of Saeki Ward, Hiroshima, and the leader of the first delegation team, said, “The average age of hibakusha residing in North America is 77. The delay of the health checkups, which have been implemented every other year, would have a significant impact on them. We will carry Tamiflu with us and conduct the health checkups with safety in mind.”

(Originally published on September 5, 2009)