Monday, January 15, 2007

Japan: Hiroshima - Medical Japanism

This entry is dedicated to the many "Japanisms" that we discover while living here. One of those weird cultural differences that dumbfounds me.

The following info. is from "The Wall Street Journal Asia," Article entitled "Japan's Cancer Refugees Speak Up." This article leaves me speechless because I can't even begin to understand it. In Japan it is custom never to question your doctor, manager, teacher or anyone with authority. That said, it is no suprise that even thru the late 1990s, the concept of a 2nd medical opinion was unknown. "Today, Japanese people are borrowing the English words and getting a "sekando opinon."

Cancer is Japan's No. 1 cause of death and here, they do not ever tell the patient they have the disease. The patient is left in the dark and they never question their doctor. Family members usually know the true diagonis, but does not burden the patient about it. Unlike the U.S. where the patient is in control of their decisions about their health care. The internet has broken down patients' isolation from information about their disease and foreign treatments. Now Japanese citizens are demanding for more - they want Amercian style care and drugs for cancer.

Japanese government currently guarantees that everyone has health insurance coverage and pays most of the bills. Japan only spends half the money other Western countries do on cancer treament and research . The Health Bureau at the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare says "With a huge national debt and corporations worried about higher taxes, Japan can't afford to throw money into treaments and training that offer little hope of significantly extending life spans." Patients are now speaking up about their restriction in choices.

I don't get it!?!? How can you not tell someone they have cancer and have their whole family lie to them? In my opinion, the idea of not acknowledging a disease and making it taboo only hurts them.