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Home > Outline of Japan's Industrial Pollution Abatement > Approaches to Water Pollution Control (Case Study-2) Minamata City, Kumamoto Prefecture > (1) Remedial Responses at Early Stages

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Update:April 1, 2010

(1) Remedial Responses at Early Stages

3. Public Health Protection

Kumamoto Prefecture and Minamata City have been extending financial support to the patients of Minamata Disease to lessen their burdens associated with medical expenses since the first patient was identified.
At the beginning, when the cause of the disease had not yet been discovered, they officially counted the patients as suspected cases of Japanese encephalitis and offered them the isolation wards of the municipal hospital and Kumamoto University Medical School so that they were able to receive the medical treatment at public expenses. Public assistance programs were also applied to cover daily and medical payments.
The treatment method for Minamata Disease can be roughly classified as causal treatment and symptomatic treatment, the former of which is to have methylmercury compound excreted with the help of medicines and the latter is to apply different treatments according to the symptom exhibited. The above two are sometimes accompanied by rehabilitation.
However, their effectiveness is limited to advanced or chronic cases.
In July 1958, a separate division was established at the municipal hospital and exclusively dedicated to the patients of Minamata Disease. Since then, the patients of Minamata Disease was officially entitled to take medical treatment at public expenses. Furthermore, in March 1965, a municipal rehabilitation center (Yunoko Hospital) affiliated to the municipal hospital opened and rendered itself to the treatment and rehabilitation of the patients.
In 1912, Meisui-En, the only social welfare institute for officially- recognized patients of Minamata Disease in Japan, was established to provide the patients with ideal conditions for medical treatment and rehabilitation.