Health issues caused by the rising temperatures associated with climate change have increased dramatically in recent years. Record heat waves in Europe caused more than 60,000 deaths last year, while a sharp increase in climate disasters such as floods and droughts in Africa have led to worsening food security and the spread of infectious diseases. Japan is no exception, and the number of “Heat Stroke Alerts” issued by the Ministry of the Environment continues to rise each year. This year, the number exceeded 1,000 for the first time since the alerts began, with escalating numbers of people being transported to emergency rooms due to heat stroke.
In this edition of the COSMO newsletter, we sit down with Dr. Yasushi Honda, Professor Emeritus of Sports Science at the University of Tsukuba to get his take on the health risks posed by climate change; the key facts you need to know; and how the healthcare industry should respond.
岩下裕司Health Care and The Environment: The Risks Posed by Climate Change How should the healthcare industry respond?
Have you heard of PFAS? Standing for “Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances,” PFAS is the generic name for artificially created organic fluorine compounds. Capable of repelling water and oil, in addition to being highly resistant to heat, chemicals, and ultraviolet rays, they are used in a wide range of applications from water repellents and emulsifiers, to fire extinguishing agents and surface treatments for packaging materials. However, as stable compounds, PFAS have also become known as “forever chemicals” since they can remain in the environment with little degradation. Reportedly, some PFAS may potentially affect human health if people are internally exposed to them for long periods of time. In recent years, there has been an accelerating trend toward their tighter regulation, particularly in the US and Europe. In this newsletter, we asked Dr. Kouji Harada, Associate Professor at the Department of Health and Environmental Sciences, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, to introduce some of the fundamentals around PFAS, as well as share his insights into related domestic and international trends, and what approach the healthcare industry should take. Read on to the end for Dr. Harada’s profile.
岩下裕司Healthcare and the Environment: Understanding the Movement around PFASHow should the healthcare industry face this issue?
The Act on Securing Quality, Efficacy and Safety of Products Including Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices (Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Act) defines “Rare Disease” as that with fewer than 50,000 patients in Japan. In recent years we have seen a rise in activities being held in Japan and around the world to raise awareness of rare and intractable diseases. These are largely driven by patient groups, but pharmaceutical companies are also starting to more actively provide information and develop new drugs. Steady progress is being made, but there remain many issues to be addressed when it comes to solving challenges around rare and intractable diseases.
In this newsletter, we sit down with Ms. Yukiko Nishimura, Founder and President of ASrid (Advisory Service for Rare and Intractable Diseases), a non-profit organization that seeks to provide services to all stakeholders in the field of rare and intractable diseases. The conversation explores the current state of these challenges in more depth, as well as the next steps we should be working toward. Read on to the end for Ms. Nishimura’s full profile.
岩下裕司Solving Challenges Around Rare and Intractable Diseases Through Stakeholder Collaboration Moving toward an era when patients, healthcare professionals, and pharmaceutical companies take action together
It has been claimed in the past that women are twice as likely to suffer from depression as men. Factors may include anxiety caused by naturally-fluctuating female hormones, a work environment in Japan that still makes it difficult for women to work, conflicts arising from relationships within the family, or memories of childhood trauma. Compounding this, recent research suggests that women’s mental health has been further negatively impacted under the COVID-19 pandemic. If we suspect the mental health of someone close to us is deteriorating, whether in the family or at work, how should we go about responding?
In this newsletter, we speak to Dr. Yoshiko Orito of the Yoyogi no Mori Clinic, who has been involved in women’s mental health for many years, about the issues surrounding women’s mental health and specific measures to deal with them. Dr. Orito’s profile may be found at the end.
岩下裕司Women’s mental health advice from a medical practitioner in the field The importance of creating a supportive atmosphere for those experiencing mental health issues
As COVID-19 infections continue to spread, the pandemic is bringing about other problems in Japan with deteriorating mental health among women and increased rates of suicide. It’s believed that this may be attributed to an increase in domestic abuse, heavier burden of domestic responsibilities, such as housework, childcare and nursing care, as well as escalating financial pressures, including job loss and reduced income.
Solving gender inequality demands cutting to the core of the issue and directly tackling the structural problems that put women in vulnerable positions. However, striving for gender equality means recognizing that there is an overlooked part of society where both men are women are struggling. Dr. Haruka Sakamoto, Senior Manager at the Health and Global Policy Institute highlights this issue when she notes that domestic work still tends to fall upon women due to outdated beliefs that men should be working hard outside of the home with society negatively judging men who prioritize domestic work over their careers. Women are pressured to stay at home, while men are made to work long hours on their paid jobs. Such a society makes life difficult for both women and men.
岩下裕司The current state of women’s mental health in Japan How should we respond to deepening challenges brought about by the pandemic?
In this issue, we highlight the road to good health as experienced by women, and the growing interest in femtech. In particular, we set out to raise awareness of the following challenges, solutions, and key learnings:
Encouraging discussion on women’s health
Conversations with experts in the field
Innovative solutions in Japan
Positive outcomes for women’s health
The path forward
When it comes to recognizing the connection between women’s health and community, perhaps Michelle Obama said it best, “Communities are only as strong as the health of their women.”1
Kumi Sato, Cosmo Public Relations Corporation (“COSMO”) President and CEO, “I believe that we still have a long way to go in ensuring there is more focus on Women’s Health. To advance earlier diagnosis and appropriate treatment, Diagnostics and Medical Devices will be increasingly important.”
岩下裕司Spotlight on Women’s Health in Japan: The role of femtech in the lives of women
No. 2: Dr. Masaharu Tsubokura, MD, of Hirata Central Hospital in Fukushima
As the second segment of COSMO’s “Japan in 10 Minutes” interview series, our CEO Kumi Sato interviews with Dr. Tsubokura, of Hirata Central Hospital in Japan.
In the interview, Dr. Tsubokura discussed the situation about PCR testing and Antibody testing in Japan.
Tomomi-NagasawaCOSMO Healthcare Interview: “Japan in 10 Minutes”
Finally we are seeing a flattening of the worldwide COVID-19 curve and lifting of lockdowns across major cities. On May 14, Japan lifted its state of emergency for 39 prefectures. With people and businesses asked to either refrain entirely or severely restrict so many activities during the crisis, we are now entering a new phase of resuming daily life while coexisting with the virus.
Some experts are predicting that the post-COVID-19 world will be accompanied by a transformational paradigm shift, spanning every aspect of our lives from business and commerce, to education to politics. Indeed, the pandemic has already ushered in rapid adoption of long-advocated initiatives, such as cashless society, online shopping, teleworking, paperless society, online education, and telemedicine. We can now finally predict that Japan will see step changes in these areas, with COVID-19 acting as the catalyst.
Tomomi-NagasawaCorporate Relevance:Communications Strategies in the COVID-19 Age
Q&A with the Change Makers at the Forefront of Patient-Centricity
COSMO’s senior consultant in Washington DC, Emi Yasukawa, reports on the EyeforPharma Patient Summit USA held October 2 – 3. At the two-day summit in Philadelphia, pharmaceutical industry professionals and patient advocacy groups gathered to share their insights move the industry forward.
In this article, I am honored to share insights and takeaways from three change makers. The following are three key takeaways that will help us form our next moves regarding patient engagement:
The industry is shifting from working for patients, to working with patients.
Many patient groups voiced concerns that research conducted without their direct involvement was incongruent with patient needs. Involving patients throughout the development process will give profound insights into how the disease is understood. John Linnell, a COPD patient and director of the US COPD Coalition, aptly summed this up, “If it is without us [patients], it is not about us.” Read John’s interview on his involvement as a COPD patient »
There is synergy between patient and employee engagement.
EyeforPharma polled the audience about their beliefs about where patient centricity begins; 70% of attendees responded that patient centricity begins from a top down and then bottom-up approach.
Dr. Lode Dewulf, Chief Patient Affairs Officer of Servier Group, says that it is important not to create a standardized approach to internally organize for patient engagement, noting that the first step is to understand the very specific needs and aspirations of the company. Read Dr. Dewulf’s perspectives as Chief Patient Officer »
Patient engagement involves more than patients; it involves their families, patient groups, healthcare professionals, caretakers and the community.
Kazuyoshi Hatanaka, Chairman of Japan Partners for Patient-Centric Care (JPPaC), strives to improve pharmaceuticals for patients. Historically, patients were seen as consumers of pharmaceuticals; however, Mr. Hatanaka’s NPO is expanding the circle of patient centricity in Japan and bridging dialogue between patients, patient advocacy groups, pharmaceutical companies, and HCPs. Read Mr. Hatanaka’s insights on patient engagement in Japan »
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Established in 1960, COSMO was a pioneer in the field of public relations in Japan. Today, we continue to shape the communication landscape in the fields of Healthcare, Food & Food Science, and Consumer Goods & Services.