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Behind the scene of fighting against the outbreak of COVID-19 in Thailand are Thai epidemiologists
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Behind the scene of fighting against the outbreak of COVID-19 in Thailand are Thai epidemiologists

Whenever an epidemic happens, epidemiologists are working hard behind the scenes to investigate the outbreak, track infections and identify the route of exposure. In fact, they are doing everything they can to stop the further spread of the disease. In Thailand, epidemiologists are small in number. So, it can be said that a small group of just 183 members are taking up the big mission of dealing with epidemics – some emerging and some others recurrent. Before we go into detail about their job, let’s define who an epidemiologist is first. An epidemiologist is a medical specialist. After completing six-year medical training, they have furthered their studies in the field of epidemiology. There are basically two groups of epidemiologists. The first group refers to clinical epidemiologists who are based at hospitals. The second group refers to field epidemiologists who mostly work in communities. The key duties of field epidemiologists are to collect body-fluid samples and investigate outbreaks. They spend most of their time with germs, not patients. Some people call field epidemiologists “outbreak investigators”. These epidemiologists are out in action, not just during outbreaks of diseases. When everything seems fine, their duty is to monitor the situation. They also take...

Dependent-Patient Care in Thailand’s Political Landscape for Future
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Dependent-Patient Care in Thailand’s Political Landscape for Future

Dependency is unpredictable. But as Thailand becomes an aged society, the number of elderly keeps growing to the point that older persons create an emerging market for the business sector. The Public Health Ministry and authorities whose missions are related to healthcare and quality of life, meanwhile, have accorded importance to long-term care (LTC) for the elderly. In the eyes of social scientists, the challenge lies with how to engage members of all generations in LTC system and how to engage the young generation in the system-designing process. To say the truth, participation in the designing process is about shaping their own future. Look at the political landscape. The future is about letting the new generation have a role to play. Official statistics show the number of the elderly is fast rising. According to the Thai Gerontology Research and Development Institute, the elderly accounts for 16.73 per cent of Thai population. Their percentage will rise to 28 in the next 10 years. The longer people live, the higher the chance of them becoming bedridden. It is necessary to politicize LTC for the elderly if we want it to keep pace with future-focused political landscape. We must push this issue into...

Public Health Ministry, NHSO, ThaiHealth, and Local Administrative Bodies Meet Up to  Make Thailand’s Long-Term Care System Stronger and More Sustainable
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Public Health Ministry, NHSO, ThaiHealth, and Local Administrative Bodies Meet Up to Make Thailand’s Long-Term Care System Stronger and More Sustainable

Dr. Narong Saiwongse, deputy permanent secretary for Public Health, has praised the National Health Security Office’s (NHSO) Long-Term Care Fund as a good solution to Thailand’s aging society. In his view, the LTC Fund practically increases the quality of life among both the elderly and dependent patients. “Because no ageing society can avoid dependent people, it is necessary to develop service system for the dependent. We need to do this to ensure people losing their independence can still have quality of life,” Dr. Narong told the LTC Forum 2020. Held by the Human Resources for Health Research and Development Office (HRDO) as a part of its project to learn from the LTC Fund management, the event ran from November 17 to 18, 2020 under the Moving together to Sustainable LTC theme. The Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth) has funded this project. The NHSO established the LTC Fund in 2016 to take care of dependent elderly. Thanks to the fund, long-term care has been provided to people who cannot perform activities of daily living on their own and need help from others. The LTC fund has used local administrative bodies namely subdistrict administrative organizations and subdistrict municipalities as key mechanisms for...

Regulations on community-public health profession is promulgated in the Royal Gazette
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Regulations on community-public health profession is promulgated in the Royal Gazette

Regulations on community-public health profession: Promulgated in the Royal Gazette they prescribe the criteria of community-public health practitioners, basic health assessments, and basic treatments. On 21 July 2020, the Royal Gazette made announcements on three legislation related to community-public health professions. Firstly, the Public Health Ministry’s Regulation on Basic Treatment Limitations of B.E. 2563 stipulates that community-public health practitioners must hold a valid license of community-public health profession. They cannot practice in events that their license is suspended/revoked or expires. Practitioners of community-public health must provide basic treatments in accordance with the Council of Community-Public Health’s regulation on limitations and conditions of practice as well as professional standards. Secondly, the Council of Community-Public Health’s Regulation on Criteria and Conditions of Basic Health Assessments, Basic Treatments, Patient Care, Immunization, and Family Planning of B.E. 2563 specifies which diseases community-public health practitioners can assess and provide treatments for. Among them are high fever, stomachache, malnutrition, skin problems, oral ulcers, resuscitation, and emergency child deliveries. Thirdly, the Council of Community-Public Health’s Regulation on Criteria and Conditions of Basic Health Assessments for Patient Referrals of B.E. 2563 requires that community-public health practitioners refer patients to better-equipped facilities and inform them/their relatives of the referral...

The conversation with Dr. Samrerng Yangkratoke’s Push for Three-Doctor Policy
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The conversation with Dr. Samrerng Yangkratoke’s Push for Three-Doctor Policy

Thailand is now upgrading its primary-healthcare system in terms of quality and accessibility via the initiative to assign three doctors to each family. The three-doctor policy recognizes a village health volunteer as the first doctor for providing healthcare services at community level, an official of a district health promotion hospital as the second doctor for giving healthcare at sub-district level, and a family physician as the third doctor for delivering services at district level. The policy seeks to ensure these three doctors work together systematically, making further progress from the universal coverage healthcare scheme. The Human Resources for Health Research and Development Office interviews Dr. Samrerng Yangkratoke, vice minister for Public Health, as he is the man behind this three-doctor policy.   How did the three-doctor policy start? The formulation of this policy started because we wanted to develop the country’s healthcare system further and we took account the opinions of many. First of all, we paid attention to a goal mentioned at a World Health Organization (WHO) meeting in Astana back in 2018. Developed based on the Alma Mater Declaration on primary-healthcare development, that goal demands that every country create primary-healthcare sustainability for its people. Secondly, we paid attention...

Time to eliminate risks at hospitals
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Time to eliminate risks at hospitals

On the night of July 5, a man entered the Phuphaman Hospital in Khon Kaen province and attempted a sexual assault against a female nurse. Fortunately, relatives of patients at the hospital came to her rescue in time. The attacker fled the scene but was arrested the following day. Two weeks later, a doctor based at the emergency room (ER) of the Vibharam Chaiprakarn Hospital in Samut Prakan province was physically attacked as friends of a patient who died on his way to the hospital got enraged. Those angry friends attacked the doctor and destroyed properties inside the ER. They would later raid and ravage the ER of the Muangsamut Poochao Hospital too. These two incidents are just a tip of an iceberg, when it comes to problems facing medical workers in many areas. The editorial team of Human Resources for Health Research and Development Office’s Butterfly Effect booklet has compiled information of medical workers’ risks before. These risks can be categorized as below: Direct risks from medical-service delivery such as being pierced accidentally by a needle, being infected, being exposed to patients’ body fluids, and being assaulted by patients. Such risks are particularly high for staff working with psychiatric...

Khamporn Ketkaeo’s 16 Years as Village Health Volunteer and Response to COVID-19
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Khamporn Ketkaeo’s 16 Years as Village Health Volunteer and Response to COVID-19

It is now clear to the whole world that Thailand’s village health volunteers have played a crucial role in the surveillance and control of COVID-19. The Human Resources for Health Research and Development Office thus sits down with Khamporn Ketkaeo for insights. Based in Chandee sub-district of Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Chawang district, Khamporn was named the province’s outstanding village health volunteer in the field of local wisdom for health in 2015. How did you become a village health volunteer? I have worked as a village health volunteer since 2004. Before that, I used to live in Bangkok for quite a long time. I had spent years studying and working in the capital. Even though I was laid off in the wake of the 1997 Financial Crisis, I had continued living in Bangkok. One day, I saw an announcement about the Pennapa Subcharoen of Institute of Thai Traditional Medicine offering a course and decided to enroll. It took me four years, from 1999 to 2003, to complete the course. After the completion, I have been licensed to practice Thai traditional medicine. I can provide massages, prepare herbs, and provide treatments based on traditional knowledge. I headed back to my hometown in...

New Normal Medical Service: A Medical Visit Will Never Be the Same
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New Normal Medical Service: A Medical Visit Will Never Be the Same

COVID-19 has forced humans into a new normal. People must change their old ways of life so as to curb the risks of getting infected and spreading the virus. Given its exposure to pathogens, healthcare system is one of the key systems with a high risk of being a spreader.  The Public Health Ministry therefore has prescribed new normal medical service for all medical facilities. Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Mr. Anutin Charnvirakul says the new normal medical service involves adjustments made to not just infrastructure but also service-delivery methods. Regarding infrastructure, space management must be revamped to ease crowding for the safety of both healthcare workers and service users. Equipment must also be erected to keep distance between them, with clear designation of each service area. For inpatient care, medical facilities must prepare a cohort ward for patients with pneumonia to isolate them from others. Regarding service-delivery methods, medical facilities must try to minimize the number of personnel and patients. They must categorize their patients into two groups. The first group refers to patients who need to see a doctor. When providing services to these patients, modern equipment and technologies should be deployed more to reduce risks...

Village Health Volunteers are Hard-to-Imitate Worker Ants in Thailand’s Healthcare System
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Village Health Volunteers are Hard-to-Imitate Worker Ants in Thailand’s Healthcare System

Days ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) lauded Thai village health volunteers’ role in controlling the spread of COVID-19 (#COVID19). The praise, so far, is hardly a surprise given that village health volunteers have long been a vital force in Thailand’s primary care system and have contributed to the system’s international reputation. The primary care system of Thailand has earned compliments from the WHO and health organizations of various nations every now and then. WHO has even funded educational trips for other Southeast Asian nations to study Thailand’s primary care system. The recent praise is not the first time WHO has complimented Thailand’s village health volunteers in containing a pandemic. In the wake of avian influenza in 2007, this international organization also wrote in praise of Thai health volunteers for playing a vital role in monitoring and controlling the bird-flu outbreak. That year, WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia – which is based in New Delhi – published an article titled Role of Village Health Volunteers in Avian Influenza Surveillance in Thailand. According to the article, village health volunteers’ contribution is one of the two key factors behind Thailand’s successful avian influenza surveillance. Other countries thus were advised to accord...

Number of Thai Healthcare Workers Infected by COVID-19 Rises by 7 to 87 on April 12
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Number of Thai Healthcare Workers Infected by COVID-19 Rises by 7 to 87 on April 12

Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin, spokesman of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, updated the public on April 12 that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Thailand rose by 33. Of these new patients, seven were healthcare workers. The total number of healthcare workers infected by COVID-17 thus stood at 87, accounting for 3.41 per cent of Thailand’s 2,551 COVID-19 patients. COVID-19 infections among doctors and healthcare workers have mainly taken place because they provided health services to patients without knowing that the latter have had the new coronavirus. In most such cases, their patients have withheld certain information while seeking services. The infected healthcare workers had served both inpatients and outpatients. They had worked in outpatient ward, inpatient ward, emergency department, dental department, laboratories. Some of the infected are support staff in the healthcare sector. There are also cases whereby healthcare workers contracted COVID-19 from non-work environment. In addition, there are cases that are being investigated as to how healthcare workers got the virus. “COVID-19 infections among healthcare workers are worrying because when they are infected, they need to stop working and go into quarantine. Those in close contact with infected doctors or nurses are likely nurses who will have...

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