Okinawa to set up ¥2 billion fund to alleviate doctor shortage

The Okinawa Prefectural Government is planning to establish a ¥2-billion fund in order to resolve the problem of shortage of doctors. The Prefectural Government will present a budget revision bill to the Prefectural Regular Assembly in September.

The fund covers five years including this fiscal year.  The aim is that special doctors like obstetricians and brain surgeons, of which there is a chronic shortage, are guaranteed a stable supply to the southern Miyako, and Yaeyama islands districts. According to some prefectural executives, the definite plan is like that the fund contributes to research expenses of cooperating medical facilities when they send doctors to the northern part of Okinawa Island or isolated islands, and practice expense for obstetricians in the northern area and isolated islands.

The shortage of doctors has had a serious effect t those locations. For instance, high risk pregnancy cases have to be sent to hospitals in the middle or southern parts of the main Island of Okinawa, and in prefectural hospitals on isolated islands, medical care of cerebral surgery and otolaryngologists are often not available.

It’s likely that it would be possible to attract qualified  doctors to work in the north of island or isolated islands due to the lack of chance to obtain skills of high quality specialized medical treatment.  “It is not easy for doctors to come to places where e do not have enough doctors. With taking advantage of the fund, we would like to ensure  stable supply of doctors,” a prefectural executive says.