Decay of Public Health

Decay of Public Health

Decay of Public Health Activism, Blog, Southeast Asia, Thailand
May 18, 2017

Thai public hospitals offer much hope to the masses, especially to the poor.

Yet for the past three years, there has been a decline in quality services, the increase of bureaucracy and the fear of a future without basic healthcare rights.

The military government has been hinting that it might end universal healthcare, which has been around for more than a decade, because of the financial burden on the state.

Source: Thailand’s ‘failing’ public healthcare needs a lifeline

In the past

In 2000, about one-quarter of people in Thailand were uninsured, and many other people had policies that granted incomplete protection. As a result, the country was in a healthcare crisis. More than 17,000 children younger than five died that year, about two-thirds of them from easily preventable infectious diseases. And about 20% of the poorest Thai homes fell into poverty from out-of-pocket healthcare spending.

In 2001, Thailand introduced the Universal Coverage Scheme (UCS). It’s described as “one of the most ambitious healthcare reforms ever undertaken in a developing country” in the book Millions Saved: New Cases of Proven Success in Global Health. The UCS, which spread to all provinces the following year, provides outpatient, inpatient and emergency care, available to all according to need. By 2011, the program covered 48 million Thais, or 98% of the population.

Source: What Thailand can teach the world about universal healthcare

Civil Society

As for the present, there is a worrying question of sustainability of the 30-bath universal coverage scheme. This program guarantees a patient would not have to pay more than 30 baht per visit for medical care. However the public has not been able to express openly about their concerns, as the military government does not take criticism lightly.

Civil society has no influence to change policy, and dwindling project funds among NGOs has disabled much-needed health programs to marginalised communities. Some believe when (or if) a democratically-elected civilian government takes over, then there is that possibility of positive change. Though we have yet to see any indicators of this happening.


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