San Francisco Marin Medical Society Blog

SFMMS's 22nd Biennial Japanese Medical Mission Team Visit

San Francisco Marin Medical Society's 2019 Hiroshima Office Visit

SFMMS had the recent pleasure of greeting members of the Hiroshima Prefectural Medical Association (HPMA) and the 22nd Biennial Japanese Medical Mission Team during a welcome breakfast at St. Mary’s Medical Center followed by a visit to the SFMMS office. SFMMS leaders thanked them for once again conducting medical examinations in San Francisco for local “hibakusha” – survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Since 1977, HPMA has sponsored official biennial medical missions for the benefit of hibakusha and their children living in the United States who, due to the survivors’ exposure to radiation in the 1945 bombings, might face continuing medical problems. As the sister society to HPMA since 1981, SFMMS has provided the local affiliation necessary for the team of HPMA physicians to conduct these medical examinations during their visits.

This year, the team members who made the long trek from Japan to San Francisco were Masao Kuwabara, MD, PhD, (Team Leader); Masahiro Yamasaki, MD, PhD, Satoko Kunita, MD, PhD, Takeshi Yahata, Tetsuaki Ito, Nobuaki Nishikawa, and Fukae Hironori.

The examinations focus on internal diseases as well as surgical and gynecological physical examinations and consultations. Included in the examinations are: general hematology tests, urinalysis, biochemical testing such as liver function tests, diabetes screening, thyroid gland function testing, serum cholesterol as well as screenings for colorectal cancer, liver cancer, multiple myeloma, breast cancer, and uterine cancer. The team issues a report after each visit. 

Noting that the bombings were a one-time, albeit massive, exposure, so far the results are encouraging - other than longstanding anxiety and other psychological impacts, there have been few statistically significant physical impacts detected.

The medical examinations were held at St. Mary’s Medical Center, which, along with the Sister Mary Philippa Health Center, has been involved with the biennial medical mission since 1995.

During the team’s visit to the SFMMS office, we had the opportunity to discuss public health issues that Japan and the United States are both currently facing. Vaping was the first item on the agenda and we found that that both HPMA and SFMMS agree that Juul misled the public to believe that their products were safer than cigarettes. SFMMS President, Dr. Kim Newell Green was asked about the unique challenges that women in medicine face, and the role that the growing number of women in the medical workforce has played on low birth rates in the U.S. and Japan. 

SFMMS always looks forward to their biennial visit and to sharing an enlightening conversation about global issues impacting the profession of medicine.

Below are a few photos taken from the visit. 

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