Parents of sick children in Japan suffer job loss, negative health: survey

2021-11-30 06:35:12 GMT2021-11-30 14:35:12(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

TOKYO, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- Shortage of health care workers in Japan is adding burden to families with hospitalized children, as a survey revealed nearly 85 percent of parents in such families are forced to care full-time for their kids, according to a Kyodo report on Tuesday.

A recent survey by St. Luke's International University conducted in conjunction with a nonprofit organization named Keep Moms Smiling, which supports families of sick children, showed that affected parents are suffering from impacts on jobs as well as negative health situation.

The survey showed around 70 percent of working parents' professional lives were impacted, as they have to take leave from work or even quit their job entirely.

Of respondents to the survey, 45 percent had jobs, with half of them feeling more financially insecure after their child was hospitalized.

Meanwhile, the issue is also compounded by the fact that the facilities are not sufficiently equipped to host them, the Kyodo News reported.

Usually, parents are not served meals, and often have no place to sleep but on makeshift beds or next to their sick children in the same bed. Some parents may need to stay for months at a time depending on their children's situation.

The university survey also confirmed that parents experienced negative health impacts as they had difficulties in accessing decent meals or getting enough sleep when accompanying their children in hospitals.

The survey was conducted online from December 2019 to February 2020. Of the 1,054 parents who responded nationwide, 94 percent were mothers, the survey said. Some 69 percent of the hospitalized were preschool children, while 39 percent were under two years old.

To get a gauge on the situation, Japan's Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Shigeyuki Goto tasked his ministry with conducting a survey on hospitals and families of hospitalized family members, including adults.

"We'd like to consider taking appropriate steps based on the results (of the survey)," Goto told a press conference in Tokyo on Nov. 24.

The government's survey covers some 300 hospitals nationwide and around 3,000 people whose family members are hospitalized, according to the ministry.

"The situation needs to be improved by such means as creating a better environment for parents to live in hospitals or allocate more staff who can deal with children undergoing treatment without being escorted by their parents," said Kyoko Kobayashi, professor at St. Luke's International University. Enditem