The Japan Society of Ningen dock

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Japan Society of Ningen Dock
President Yukito Shinohara, MD, PhD, FAHA

As the newly appointed 8th President of the Japan Society of Ningen Dock, I would like to briefly introduce the Society and its work. The origin of the Society's name: "Ningen" means "human" in Japanese, and a "Dock" is an enclosed area in a port where ships can be serviced and repaired. Since this is similar to our system, in which normative people visit an institute on their own initiative for a check-up of their health, we adopted the nickname "Ningen Dock". The Society was founded in 1959, more than half a century ago. Since then, it has expanded greatly thanks to the enthusiasm and support of all members, including my predecessor, the 7th President Dr Masaharu Nara. Now, in 2016, the official members of the Society include as many as 5,532 medical doctors, 469 co-medical workers, 1,649 medical institutes and 32 supporting members throughout Japan, including a few members from other Asian countries.

The aims of the Society are mainly to encourage the progress of preventive medicine in Japan and thus to contribute to improving the health of the Japanese people. The Society has worked hard for many years to improve the prevention and early detection of many diseases, including cancers, heart diseases, cerebrovascular diseases, and liver and kidney diseases. Our work, together with the famous public health insurance system in Japan, has contributed not only to improvement of public health in general, but also to prolongation of people's healthy and productive life expectancy. We believe further development of preventive medicine should be a central goal of medicine in Japan in the 21st century.

The pattern of diseases is changing year by year, in part because of our aging society. On the other hand, recently there has been remarkable progress in medical examinations, including genetic analysis, which may enable us to predict individual patient's susceptibility to diseases later in their lives. However, onset of most diseases is not determined by genetic factors alone. Probably the most important issue for people is the proper management of their own daily life styles. It is clear that a good understanding by individuals of health check-up results, good awareness of changes in their health condition, and a willingness to make appropriate lifestyle changes will be very helpful for the early detection and prevention of diseases.

Of course, early detection of hypertension, dyslipidemia, abnormal glucose metabolism, minimal abnormalities of stomach or lung and so on is important, but our final goal should be to prevent the development of these abnormalities. The key point may be to engage people in the care of their own health, and our role should be to advise and help them to do this. These ideas are important for the future direction of our Society, as I recently described in our official journal "Ningen Dock (Vol 31[3]:409)". People's life span has been increasing for well over a century, but I would like to emphasize that the aim of our Society's work on early diagnosis and prevention is not merely to add years of illness to the end of people's lives, but rather to extend their healthy and productive lifespans.

July, 2016