Govt to Set Up Japanese Version of CDC Next April; Aims to Speed Up Response to Infectious Disease Outbreak

Reuters file photo
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga.

The government has decided to establish a Japanese version of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in April next year as part of efforts to improve the mitigation of possible infectious diseases.

The plan was to be presented at a health ministry preparatory committee meeting on Tuesday.

The government had previously planned to create the Japanese version in fiscal 2025 or later, but concluded that it was necessary to establish the system as soon as possible.

A formal decision will be made by the government at a Cabinet meeting shortly.

Modeled after the CDC of the United States, the new entity will be created by merging the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID), which researches pathogens, and the National Center for Global Health and Medicine (NCGM), which is responsible for the treatment of infectious diseases.

A related bill was passed into law at last year’s ordinary session of the Diet.

Since January this year, the government has formed a preparatory committee under the direct control of the health, labor and welfare minister, with experts discussing the organizational structure and other issues.

To ensure that the chain of command and order function efficiently, a crisis management division will be established as the supervising department.

The entity will collect information on infectious diseases at home and abroad during normal times and grasp the situation at an early stage.

In the event of an emergency, the entity is expected to assess the lethality and contagiousness of an infectious disease at each of the following stages: when a new infectious disease occurs overseas when a person is confirmed to be infected in Japan, and when an epidemic breaks out in Japan.

Based on the results of such a risk assessment, a team will be formed to take countermeasures.

The government will quickly select a president to lead the new organization and consider the size of the workforce in preparation for its establishment in April 2025.

Japan was slow in its response to COVID-19. With the NIID and NCGM merging, the integration is expected to provide a unified response from research to medical treatment, thereby accelerating the initial response to unknown pathogens.

The new entity is also expected to play a central role in the development of vaccines and therapeutic drugs, a process in which Japan lagged behind that of other countries, by strengthening cooperation with domestic and overseas hospitals.