The 53rd General Assembly of the Japanese Association of Rural Medicine was opened in the city of Akita on October 7 for two days under the presidency of Dr. Hiromichi Ohbuchi, director of the Yamamoto Kumiai General Hospital placed under the wings of the Akita Prefectural Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives for Health and Welfare. This congress, held for the first time in 12 years in Akita, signified the fifth there in the annals of the Association. The management of this congress, carefully planned and filled with simplicity and friendliness, proved heart-warming and impressive. The main presentations to the congress were as follows: Acting as congress president, Dr. Ohbuchi spoke in his speech of 72 years of hard struggles through which his hospital had gone under the title of “Progress of the Yamamoto Kumiai General Hospital and Community Health care in the Future.” Dr. Masato Hayashi, President of the Association, presented a special lecture under the title of “Measures to Deal with Lifestyle-related Diseases in the Rural Setting in the Future.” Speaking in commemoration of the congress, Norishiro Terada, governor of Akita Prefecture, gave a lecture under the title of “Security and Peace of Minds-Giving Thought to Future Community Medicine in Akita Prefecture.” In a lecture opened to the public, Dr. Yoshio Gyoten, a prominent commentator, dwelled on “How Medical Care Should Respond to the Rural Communities' Bipolarization.” The scientific session featured the presentation of 322 subjects, including 202 orally, 118 by poster and two by video, suggesting that the oral presentations were nearly as twice as poster presentations. This might be so because the method of presentation was restricted to power point. Despite the fact that the congress was held soon after the local area had heavily suffered from a typhoon, the venue halls were filled with enthusiasm and the presentations were quite productive. My most heart-felt thanks go to related officials of the Akita Prefectural Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives for Health and Welfare as well as Dr. Ohbuchi and his colleagues for their immaculate preparation and management. The next general assembly will be held in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture. With Na gano hosting it for the first time in 20 years, we do look forward to the participation of as many Association members as possible.
Yamamoto Kumiai General Hostpital is located in Noshiro City 60 kilometers north of Akita City. The area served by the hospital has a population of about 100,000. We have 20 medical care departments, 534 beds, and 600 satff members. The hospital was founded on February 1, 1933 with 2 departments of internal medicine and surgery, 4 doctors, and 22 beds. On November 10, 1955, the hospital was destroyed by fire, but it was rebuilt next year. In 1963, an extension was built, and the member of beds increased to 340. Because of the hospital's insufficient capacity and again facilities, construction of a new hospital was decided. In August 1989, we moved to the new hospital building. The biggest task of the hospital is to hire and retain doctors. In 1994, the number of doctores increased to 46, but it was not enough. Therefore, we needed continued efforts to secure more doctors. A weakened management base due to a decrease in the number of patients has become a big problem. We are now at a turning point. The number of people receiving thorough medical checkups in a year is over 6,000, and a health examination center needs to be established. The number of people undergoing early-morning general checkups amounts to 5,000 per year. The number of emergency patients is about 13,000 annually. As a community-core hospital, we consider that it is most important to “secure the quality of health care.” We are planning to function as a clinical teaching hospital. We are also aiming at establishing ourselves as a community medical support hospital, a tertiary emergency medical care center, and an emergency hospital. We will do our very best to protect people's health and life for the future, keeping in mind the philosophy at the time of the foundation of the hospital:coping with the change of the times, and going along with the inhabitants of this area.
This symposium aims at identifying what problems we are confronted with concerning the environment and food safety in the 21st century, how we can make a cooperative network and formulate a policy for protecting life and agricultural environment and what tasks we should take upon ourselves in the domain of agricultural medicine and rural health. The symposium extended its scope from the interest of consumers to social needs of food safety, recovering movement of trust in food safety by the government, international standardization of policy for food safety, increasing relationship between food and environment pollution, and a new public management concerning the ecosystem and food safety. The following research problems are important for the Japanese Association of Rural Medicine as motives of cooperative work between producers, consumers and researchers; national strategy for food safety control, development or revision of food regulations and standards of safety, a program for strengthening food surveillance and control systems, enhancement research work of food and environment surveillance, and promotion of consumer education and other community outreach initiatives.