Tohoku J. Exp. Med., 2022 March, 256(3)

Editorial: Review Series in Disaster Medicine

Appropriate Health Management Considering the Vulnerability of Women during Disasters

Yasuhiro Miki1 and Kiyoshi Ito1,2

1Disaster Obstetrics and Gynecology Lab, International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS), Tohoku University, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan
2Disaster Medical Science Group, Core Research Cluster of Disaster Science, Tohoku University, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan

In situations of a disaster, it has been observed that the damage suffered by women and men is not equal. The vulnerability of women during disasters has been the focus of several studies and disaster management guidelines. Records show that there were more women victims than men victims in both the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in 1995 and the Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE) in 2011. Biologically speaking, women are physically less fit than men are; hence, they are more susceptible to physical disabilities induced by disasters and may be disadvantaged in evacuation situations. However, vulnerability of women during disasters is a complex problem that involves physical fitness, as well as other various factors. In the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (SFDRR) adopted in 2015, prioritized actions such as “Build Back Better” were defined based on the GEJE experiences. In the SFDRR, in addition to vulnerability of women during disasters, medical services including maternal, newborn, and child health and sexual and reproductive health are considered the key factors for disaster risk reduction. This has been discussed in all phases of disaster risk reduction planning and post-disaster response. These findings suggest that the role of obstetrics and gynecology is comprehensive and important as a part of disaster medicine at the local and national levels, as recommended in the SFDRR. In this review, we summarized the management of women’s health and gynecological responses during disasters and considered the importance of women as stakeholders in disaster risk reduction.

Keywords —— disaster medicine; Great East Japan Earthquake; patient’s delay; promotion of women’s participation; women’s health


Tohoku J. Exp. Med 2022, 256, 187-195.

Correspondence: Yasuhiro Miki, Disaster Obstetrics and Gynecology Lab, International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS), Tohoku University, 2-1 Seiryo-machi, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi 980-8575, Japan.