SENDAI — The government might develop coastal regions devastated by the March 11 earthquake-tsunami disaster into model zones for health care and welfare, officials said Monday.
It plans to build new elderly welfare facilities and hospitals to promote local health care and nursing care services on the Pacific coastlines of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, which have large proportions of elderly people in their populations.
The government intends to include the plan in a social security reform package to be compiled in May and reflect it in a draft scheme for rebuilding disaster-hit regions to be discussed by a government panel tasked with coming up with a reconstruction plan for the regions, the officials said.
Huge waves following the 9-magnitude quake destroyed 53 elderly welfare facilities in the coastal regions of Miyagi and Iwate prefectures, leaving 438 residents in the facilities dead or missing.
The government is planning to build new multifloor facilities on upland locations to help prevent them being hit by any tsunami in the future.
As the disaster-devastated regions suffered health and nursing care service shortages even before March 11, some elderly evacuees in the affected areas are now unable to receive care.
In the planned model zones for health care and welfare, the government is considering introducing a comprehensive regional care system where health care and nursing care facilities will cooperate in providing services to elderly people at home, as well as at those facilities.