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The European Shamisen project aims to draw the lessons from the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents and other major nuclear accidents around the world. The objective is to make recommendations for immediate and long-term responses to ionising radiation accidents, aiming in particular to respond to the needs of affected populations while minimising unnecessary anxiety.
Nuclear emergencies, such as those which occurred in Chernobyl and Fukushima, have resulted in large numbers of persons being exposed to ionising radiation. In addition, they have caused major and continuing upheavals in the lives of populations affected by fallout, both directly (emergency and accident recovery workers, evacuees, persons living in areas where dose reduction measures were taken) and indirectly (persons living in less contaminated regions).
Strategies for preparedness and surveillance should aim to meet society’s needs for accurate information on doses and health effects and provide a system of follow-up that allows affected population both to feel, and to be, well-monitored for radiation and its possible effects. Surveillance programmes raise ethical issues and challenges that need to be addressed. However: though affected populations may consider them beneficial in terms of health monitoring and care, the surveillance can create undue anxiety in populations. Conversely, persons whose dose levels do not warrant particular medical surveillance may suffer psychological consequences if not included in the surveillance programme. At present, there are no well-established, comprehensive strategies for preparedness and health surveillance relating to radiation accidents. This highlights the clear need to learn from past experiences and plan measures that engage affected populations in their follow-up, enabling them to better manage their situation.
It is upon this background that the project was launched, with the overarching objective of building upon lessons learned from experience with populations affected by Chernobyl, Fukushima and other nuclear emergencies to develop recommendations for medical and health surveillance of populations affected by previous and future radiation accidents.