A Bangkok doctor has dismissed claims that heavy demand for treatment has left some public hospitals close to “collapse”, especially in the Northeast.
Assistant Professor Dr Thira Woratanarat, who teaches preventive and social medicine at Chulalongkorn University, said on Facebook this week that the report, carried in The Nation, gave an inaccurate and overly dramatic description of the situation.
Thira said the problems reported stemmed from infrastructure that was inadequate to meet people’s basic healthcare needs in term of budget, manpower and equipment.
These are in short supply and inappropriately distributed, he said. Some hospital had “too much” money, manpower and equipment, others too little.
The government has exacerbated the problem with its policy of expanding public access without first determining whether it would overload the system, he said.
And the public contributes with unhealthy lifestyles, he stressed.
“If there were fewer health issues overall, the burden on the public health system would lessen,” Thira said, dismissing attempts to blame the free-of-charge universal healthcare scheme for rising demand for hospital services.
People can take four actions to help improve the situation, he said.
They can volunteer to help hospital staff or donate money or equipment.
They can take better care of their own health by refraining from alcohol, tobacco, drugs and fatty and salty foods, exercising regularly and getting an annual health check.
Third, the government should not seek to bolster the economy by promoting types of business that are not good for public health, like those involved in fast foods, alcohol and tobacco.
And finally, people and business should be more socially responsible and ensure their actions will only benefit society.