A temporary clinic was set up by Dr. Shunji Sekine in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture last month in order to provide medical assistance to the town’s residents following their evacuation to avoid the radiation threat from the 2011 nuclear disaster. Sekine stated that residents returning home still need medical care. The 71-year old doctor assumed the responsibility to watch over the residents and decided to stay with them instead of leaving town.
Namie was one of the towns greatly affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in 2011. Residents had to evacuate as the town was labeled as ab exclusion zone. However, beginning April, residents were allowed to return home in the daytime. Most of them visited family graves while others came to reclaim what they left behind. Others have also come for the town’s rehabilitation.
Still, town infrastructures remain unused, especially hospitals that were shut down because of the nuclear accident. Dr. Sekine was asked by the Namie Municipal Government to set up temporary clinic, which is open on Thursdays and weekends, for the residents. The clinic is also expected to be open during holidays. The doctor, who has built a clinic at the Tsushima District, saw a great change in his patients. “They look depressed and completely different from how they were before the accident.” With such assessment, Dr. Sekine believes that a rehabilitation facility should be built for the residents. He also worries for the returning residents “if they got injured during their temporary visits.”
Sekine has been treating Namie residents since 1997. He said some of his patients used to be robust farmers, but have now become weak, and even need assistance just to be able to stand. “I’ve been in Namie for 16 years and people depend on me. Do you think I can quit?” said the doctor. The temporary clinic is not in its ideal condition. It is in need of running water and bathrooms, while power supply is only a fraction, but Dr. Shunji Sekine remains dedicated and resolute to attend to Namie’s residents.