Statement in protest against passage and enactment of revised Infectious Diseases Control Law at House of Councilors plenary session

December 5, 2022
Tsuyoshi Masuda
Japan Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions

A plenary session of the House of Councilors on December 2 passed and enacted the bill to revise the Infectious Diseases Control Law.
Calling for “strengthening of medical care delivery systems” in name only, the revised law fails to solve fundamental issues of medical care and public health services that have no extra capability even in normal times.

The main pillar of the revised law’s crisis management response is to place a responsibility to secure beds for infectious disease patients on prefectural governments and to strengthen control over medical institutions by law. Specifically, medical facilities are required to conclude “agreements” with prefectures regarding the securing of beds and opening of fever outpatient clinics. Public hospitals, hospitals with specific functions, and regional medical support hospitals are required to provide infectious disease care and are subject to penalties, such as revocation of designation, if they do not follow recommendations and orders. Private medical institutions must discuss with prefectural governments to conclude an “agreement”, and the status of implementation of the agreement will be made public.
However, the collapse of medical care services during the Covid-19 pandemic was not because of the lack of structures or penalties to regulate medical institutions. The main reason for the collapse was the overwhelming shortage of doctors, nurses, public health nurses, and other workers in medical, nursing care, and public health sectors due to the government’s long-standing policy of restraining healthcare and social security services.

What is needed to secure hospital beds in the event of a pandemic is not tighter controls and penalties but to thoroughly review measures taken against Covid-19 infection based on experts’ opinions, overhaul financial support and medical care, welfare, and public health systems, drastically increase the number of staff, and rebuild a system that can respond to emergencies.

The Japan Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions condemns the passage and enactment of the bill to revise the Infectious Diseases Control Law and demands that the new law be revised to pave the way for the “strengthening of medical care delivery systems.”