New Komeito's latest immunization initiative: the Hib vaccine

November 25, 2010

When it comes to healthcare initiatives, New Komeito boasts a distinguished record of policy achievements. While partnering with the Liberal Democratic Party in the 1999-2009 coalition government, our party served as architect or agent in a host of programs, from free cervical and breast cancer screenings for women to providing national health insurance coverage for the HPV vaccine to prevent certain kinds of cervical cancers.

Our latest initiative is the Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, which we began lobbying for in 2009, to prevent certain forms of meningitis and respiratory infections. On average, some 1,000 Japanese are diagnosed with meningitis every year, of which 5% succumb to the disease; of those who survive, 25% are likely to suffer from some brain complications. Through the routine use of the Hib vaccine, however, the risk of infection has been shown to decrease from 40-100 per 100,000 children to a mere 1.3 per 100,000. Given that the Hib bacterium is an airborne agent, the threat of widespread contamination in daycare centers and schools remains serious.

Hib vaccinations have been available in Japan since December 2008, but the cost of an inoculation must be shouldered by the patient-and that has hindered widespread use. The same is true with a vaccine to prevent pneumococcal diseases.

As part of this inoculation initiative, New Komeito has conducted petition drives on a nationwide basis, while lobbying for a Hib vaccination program at the local assembly level through its network of some 3,000 municipal and prefectural legislators.