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“Medical tourism is not making care for Thais more expensive”

The Thaiger & The Nation

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“Medical tourism is not making care for Thais more expensive” | The Thaiger
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The Health Service Support Department is dismissing claims that Thai patients are having to pay more for medical treatments due to the government’s Medical Tourism Policy.

HSSD director general Dr Nattawuth Prasertsiripong insist measures have been put in place to control prices charged at private and government hospitals.

“Medical tourism does not affect the price that Thais have to pay.”

As for the brain-drain problem, with talented medical practitioners leaving state hospitals for better pay at private hospitals serving foreigners, Nattawuth said the government is addressing this issue by amending the Medical Facilities Act, which allows private medical facilities to offer educational services and training, as well as conduct research.

“This means they will be able to develop their own human resources.”

According to Nattawuth, medical tourism is a good policy because it generates a lot of money for the economy and supports Thailand’s goal of becoming a medical hub. Thailand already holds the top spot in Asia when it comes to the number of hospitals meeting standards set by the Joint Commission International – a US-based organisation that focuses on patient safety and quality of healthcare provided in the international community.

Dr Aurchat Kanjanapitak, former president of the Private Hospitals Association, also pointed out that Thai patients outnumber foreigners at all hospitals, even those that have the highest number of foreign patients.

“Not a single private hospital has shunned a Thai patient,” he claimed.

He also denied that the brain-drain problem still exists, adding “the country’s medical sector is adequately staffed now”.

Thailand’s Development Research Institute research director Dr Viroj Naranong says that Malaysia and Vietnam were also trying to establish themselves as medical hubs.

“If medical treatment in Thailand becomes too expensive, foreign patients may just switch to other countries,” he said.

The claims come at a time when Thailand’s high value baht has made medical treatment expensive for overseas visitors from some countries.

Original article: The Nation

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Politics

Opposition criticises Government for unnecessary borrowing

Maya Taylor

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Opposition criticises Government for unnecessary borrowing | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai opposition chief whip Suthin Klangsaeng - Thai PBS World

The Pheu Thai opposition party is calling on the government to look to existing funds first before attempting to borrow a trillion baht from as-yet-unnamed sources. Opposition chief whip Suthin Klangsaeng was participating in the last day of the debate on three government decrees concerning the country’s finances.

A Thai PBS World report says the government is under fire for still not disclosing how it plans to borrow one trillion baht. Opposition parties say the public should be kept informed about such decisions, given that they will be paying the price for such significant borrowing for a long time into the future. Meanwhile the Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has asked the Thai public to trust him and his government to acquire and handle the money with the interests of the Thai people at heart.

The opposition’s Suthin points to neighbouring countries such as Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam as examples of nations that have not had to resort to borrowing huge amounts of money in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. He acknowledges that Thai people need help as a result of the significant blow to the country’s economy but insists funds should be allocated from the government’s existing reserves. He says with some reshuffling of existing spending plans, the government could potentially reduce the amount of money it needs to borrow by as much as 15%.

Suthin also questions the government’s motivation in borrowing the money, accusing it of wanting to inject cash into the economy to drive spending, as opposed to compensating the small to medium businesses that have been so severely impacted by the impacts of the Covid-19 lockdowns.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Road deaths

No “new normal” for Thailand’s deadly road toll

Maya Taylor

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No “new normal” for Thailand’s deadly road toll | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Double fatality on Phuket's Kata hill on Saturday afternoon

In what will come as no surprise to most, the death toll on Thailand’s roads has resumed its upward trend after a brief interruption during the Covid-19 lock-down. As restrictions are gradually lifted across the country, more people are back behind the wheel or the handlebars, and with that, the carnage returns on Thailand’s roads.

In Phuket, a truck ploughed into a power pole on Saturday, killing the Thai driver and a Burmese national who was hit by the falling power pole as he rode his motorbike on the opposite side of the road. In the west of the country yesterday, a mother and 3 year old daughter were killed, when the car they were travelling in, left the road and drove into a tree in Kanchanaburi. The woman’s husband, who was driving, is in hospital in serious condition.

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PHOTO: Chiangrai Times

Another accident in the south killed an 80 year old woman in Nakhon Si Thammarat, when the motorbike she was a pillion passenger on was hit by a car. The woman lost a leg and sustained a broken neck in the impact, while the man driving the bike sustained serious injuries. Reports say the car involved was travelling at high speed and it’s understood the unidentified driver remained at the scene and surrendered to the police.

Already on the first day of June, 11 people have died on Thailand’s roads and nearly 700 have been injured (as of 10.40am).

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Data from thairsc.com

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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Crime

Monarchy satire Facebook group under government scrutiny

Caitlin Ashworth

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Monarchy satire Facebook group under government scrutiny | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Khaosod

Police are investigating a popular Facebook group that posts satirical commentary about the Thai royal family. One man was even detained and questioned about his posts on the satire group page, Thai media reports. There was also talk about a few other members questioned, but that has not been confirmed.

The group dubbed “Royalist Marketplace” (in Thai) is run by Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a popular critic who lives in Japan, according to a screenshot of the page taken by Khaosod. There was 430,015 members at the time of the screenshot with hundreds of posts each day. It’s now up to 452,000 as of Monday morning. The page was created about a month ago.

We can’t even post the full content of the Facebook front page.

Whilst the site was originally intended to be a broader marketplace to help Thailand’s struggling SMEs, it’s quickly morphed into politically charged commentary and satire, with plenty of ‘Royal’ content as well, that is considered highly offensive by a coterie of Thai society, as well as the current government.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun is associate professor at the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies at Kyoto University in Japan.

“A week ago, I set up another Facebook group, the Royalists Marketplace, as a platform for discussion on all things monarchy. Content is mixed, ranging from business advertisements, serious discussion on the monarchy, to parody and sarcasm. It is the latter which brightens up the Royalists Marketplace.”

Discussions of the Thai monarchy remain a taboo subject in the country. An anti-cybercrime police spokesperson said the agency is constantly working with the digital economy ministry to monitor and suppress any content deemed inappropriate, but he did not confirm if people were detained and questioned over the content on this page.

While Western countries can usually speak freely about those in power, it is a criminal act to make negative comments about members of the Royal Family in Thailand. Under Thailand’s Lese-majeste laws, you can be arrested and prosecuted and end up with a 15 year prison sentence.

Last month, a man was fired from Krispy Kreme Thailandafter he made remarks about the former King of Thailand. The doughnut chain said the man did not pass the employment probation period, but most people with knowledge of the matter say the Facebook post led to the man’s dismissal. In the post the man alleged some of the former King’s musical pieces were lifted from Western songs.

Monarchy satire Facebook group under government scrutiny | News by The Thaiger

SOURCES: Khaosod English| Khaosod English

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