DECLARATION ON HEALTH CARE AND WELFARE THE JAPAN FEDERATION OF DEMOCRATIC MEDICAL INSTITUTIONS(Min-Iren) –For providing quality and humane health care and welfare services to anyone at anytime and anywhere–

Adopted at the 35th Statutory General Assembly on February 23rd, 2002

After World War II, when hunger and contagious diseases were still rampant, those in difficulty and in need of medical services and professionals and workers engaged in health care joined their efforts to create democratically-run clinics and dispensaries in different parts of the country. Later, in 1953, these clinics federated nationwide to form the Japan Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions (Min-Iren). During the half century since its founding, Min-Iren, as a health care organization serving the working people, has always placed the residents’ voices in the center of its concern to be able to provide services that meet the actual needs of local communities. It has also promoted a movement for establishing a better social security system – one that respects human rights – and it has worked to address disaster relief, work-related accidents, environmental destruction and other social issues.

At present we have facilities in every prefecture: more than 1500 facilities employing approximately 50,000 employees in total. Our comprehensive activities extend from health care and preventive medicine to social welfare. They include disease prevention and treatment and home nursing care, which are carried out by our clinics, hospitals, social facilities, nursing homes for the elderly and pharmacies. Min-Iren is made up of cooperative or associative non-profit entities, with about 3 million people participating in their financing and management, either as members of health cooperatives, or as Min-Iren friendship association members. The management and finance of our health institutions are disclosed to the public and our hospitals charge the same fees for all beds, in order to ensure “equality of life”, which is the principle of our practice.

During the last ten and some years, successive governments have considerably disengaged from their public responsibilities of coping with diseases and with problems related to old age. They have instead repeatedly increased the economic burden of health care and welfare on the population. Health care and welfare have been reduced to nothing more than profit-making activities, which fact has increased discrimination based on the ability of users to pay. As a result, the constitutional right to life and the right to health are violated and anxiety is growing in all sectors of our society.

Our goal is to establish health care and welfare services that respect every citizen’s human dignity. This is our social mission and a fundamental requirement for a healthy and cultural life, as guaranteed by the Constitution. To fulfill this task, we always strive to learn from local community residents, including patients, to utilize scientific and technological advances, and to expand cooperation with a broad range of people who share our goals.

In the 20th century, reflecting upon the carnage of the wars that occurred, the world made progress in recognizing that peace, democracy, and human rights are precisely what must be valued most. Working together with the people of the world, in order to further this progress and to make the 21st century an era of peace and welfare, we declare the following:

1. We work together with the people to ensure health care and welfare services that respect human rights.

We conceive and provide health care and welfare services as joint initiatives of people based on trust and understanding. We therefore place the highest priority on the participation of residents of local communities, as well as patients, and work to enhance safety and security through disclosure and sharing of information. Expectations and demands of residents may change due to progress in medical science, aging population, and increasing uncertainty about livelihood. While promoting the movement to maintain the public mission of health care and welfare services, we take up new challenges for developing technologies and facilities that will contribute to improving the quality of life.

2. We establish community-based networks of health care, medical and welfare services.

To assist people who face the degradation of their living and working conditions and to solve the numerous health problems they may have, it is essential to establish strong networks within local communities capable of offering them adequate services that meet the individual needs of each person. We therefore value exchanges and joint initiatives with all those whom we collaborate with, such as other medical and welfare institutions, administrations and volunteer groups. We remain attentive to people’s expectations and opinions towards us, so that we can make our networks more open.

3. We strive to allow people to live in their local communities through all stages of their lives.

A town where children grow up in good health and the aged and disabled live safe and secure is a comfortable place to live for everyone. The active participation of residents in self-government will be as important as the responsibilities of administrative authorities. Seeking to make communities healthy, we participate in efforts to develop our towns into better places in all aspects: living, work, environment, and culture.

4. We work to build a nation of peace and social welfare, respectful of its Constitution.

The Japanese Constitution, which declares the renunciation of war and guarantees people’s right to life, is a source of pride for us all. Today, with the Constitution under threat, we work together with all those who stand in opposition to any moves that may threaten peace and to any attempt to adversely change the Constitution. We participate in the movement that aims to make Japan a country where the Constitution is fully realized in the lives of the people, in particular through an adequate social security system, and where priority is given to human dignity.

5. We develop Min-Iren as a non-profit, cooperative organization

The organizations and facilities of Min-Iren are the assets of local communities. Many non-profit cooperative or associative organizations that are committed to social missions and run establishments as part of social movements are developing throughout the world. As a member of this community, we will strengthen international exchanges, so that we can learn from the experiences of others. We will seek ways to further develop various non-profit establishments that are voluntarily created and democratically run by local residents together with health and welfare professionals.

6. We educate and train professionals who work and live with community residents.

We educate and train professionals who understand the pains and ways of life of those with illness or disability and who are willing to learn from and grow with local community residents. In making advances in our projects and in our movement, we need professionals with a strong sense of human rights backed by scientific, social, and ethical qualities. We will provide as many students as possible with opportunities to work in our facilities to enable them to acquire a wide range of experiences.  We will encourage them to join the Min-Iren movement and to join with us in imagining what health care and welfare service ought to be.