Sitemap

2020.05.29

【Aging, safety net and fiscal crisis in Japan】No.227: The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare cannot explain why infectious disease beds have decreased sharply

In this column series, Yukihiro Matsuyama, Research Director at CIGS introduces the latest information about aging, safety net and fiscal crisis in Japan with data of international comparison.

The lack of beds for patients infected with COVID-19 has become a major problem. Looking at the historical trend of the number of beds for infectious diseases, there is a surprising finding.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) surveys medical facilities every month and reports the number of beds available for tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. As shown in Figure 1, the number of beds for tuberculosis decreased from 27,197 in 1998 to 4,248 in 2020. This reduction in the number of beds is understandable given the number of deaths from tuberculosis also decreased throughout this period (Figure. 2). Similarly, the number of beds for infectious diseases other than tuberculosis decreased from 9,210 beds in 1998 to 3,321 beds in 1999. This figure has continued to decrease, and as of February 2020, there are only 1,884 beds. In addition, in January 2020, the number of infectious disease specialists is as little as 1,564 (see Column No. 21).

The infectious disease law was revised in 1998 and came into effect in April 1999. However, the revision of the law does not explain why the number of infectious disease beds in 1999 fell to one-third of that of the previous year. To clarify this discrepancy, I asked the MHLW for an explanation. Their answer was "We don't know." This suggests that no one in the government was concerned about the decline in infectious disease beds.


Figure 1: Number of beds for tuberculosis and infectious diseases

227-01.png*Please click the table image to find the original size image.
(Source) Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare


Figure 2: Number of deaths from tuberculosis

227-02.png*Please click the table image to find the original size image.
(Source) Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare


Related Column Series

see more

Yukihiro MATSUYAMA , Other Column Series

see more

back to Column Series