The Tohoku University Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization (ToMMo) operates programs designed to contribute to the health of residents, including those in areas that were hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Our aim is to investigate the mid-term to long-term effects of the disaster on the health of local residents and to improve their health through our research. The participants of the health survey are informed of their individual results. Those who are found to have severe hypertension, suspected cerebral aneurysm, blood or bone marrow disease, or other conditions that require immediate attention, we return the results to participants immediately and provide hospital referrals. In addition, a clinical psychologist provides telephone consultations and interviews afterwards if needed. We are also conducting an advanced program in return of genomic results.
ToMMo has been building a positive collaborative relationship with local municipalities through the sharing information obtained through this project. In September 2012, ToMMo signed an agreement for business cooperation with Prefecture of Miyagi. ToMMo has also signed agreement with all municipalities in Miyagi Prefecture. Abiding by the signed agreement, we conduct regular visits to each municipality, hold regional council meetings, and report on the project's activity, policies, and reports.
Additionally, as part of the activities to promote cohort studies, we make contributions towards the health policies of municipalities in the Prefecture. For example, we cooperate with municipalities to implement salt reduction measures, give lectures at high schools on the importance of tsunami evacuation drills based on the results of our published research, and teach students at elementary schools the correct way to brush their teeth.
‘System of Dispatching Physicians on a Rotation Basis’ is a recruitment system engaging physicians to serve full-time in areas deemed in need of medical health providers. ToMMo, cooperatively with Tohoku University Hospital and the Tohoku University School of Medicine, has created a system to dispatch physicians on a rotational basis, enabling the connection of communities with Tohoku university. ToMMo calls these physicians ‘ToMMo Clinical Fellows’ (TCF). TCFs build their careers by alternating between providing community medical care in disaster areas and concentrating on medical technology training and research. By March 2021, a total of 181 doctors were assigned to 13 medical institutions, mainly to support roles in internal medicine, surgery, etc. Since April 2021, Tohoku University Hospital has been operating this program with the cooperation of Miyagi Prefecture.
While some medical care institutions lost their records to the tsunami during the Great East Japan Earthquake, medical institutions which utilized long-distance storage services for medical records over electronic networks were able to keep their chart histories well protected. This demonstrated the effectiveness of medical care information networks during disasters. For the purpose of having good medical care information networks, the MMWINTM*, which ToMMo has a strong cooperative relationship with, was established in Miyagi Prefecture.
* "MMWINTM" is a trademark of the Miyagi Medical and Welfare Information Network.