Health Partners – Hawai‘i-Okinawa Partner in Health, Postwar World War II Partnership...

Health Partners – Hawai‘i-Okinawa Partner in Health, Postwar World War II Partnership Between UH Medical School and Okinawa Hospital Nearing 50 Years

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Dr. Satoru Izutsu, Ph.D.
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

The 1945 land invasion of Okinawa devastated the prefecture’s military and civilian populations. Under U.S. control, efforts were made to set up medical facilities for the Allied forces. However, medical and health care facilities for the civilian population were almost nonexistent for two years after the war, in which 30 percent of the civilians had either been killed, wounded or injured. A severe physician shortage made a bad situation worse. With few Okinawan physicians remaining in the prefecture after the war, the public health environment faced a perilous future.

Okinawan civilians were initially moved to refugee camps, where they received food, water, shelter and medical care. The first medical services administered to war survivors, many of whom were hiding in caves, likely came from U.S. Army medics, who dusted them with DDT for lice and fleas.

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