Thai government grins and bears it: New dental health department to tackle nation’s oral health

Photo: Department of Disease Control.

The Thai government is set to establish a dedicated dental health department, a move aimed at promoting oral healthcare across the nation, the Public Health Ministry announced. Permanent Secretary for Public Health, Opas Karnkawinpong, revealed to the press that the government had acknowledged the Senate Public Health Committee’s proposal to form the new department, though the plan is yet to be discussed with the incoming health minister.

While the establishment of the department is expected to span over a few years, the Public Health Ministry is determined to push the service to the public as the department gets underway. As part of its oral health care promotion, the ministry has plans to launch a dental hospital in each of the nation’s 77 provinces. This will ensure comprehensive access to oral healthcare, particularly for upcountry inhabitants.

On the topic of the proposed establishment of a medical school at the Praboromarajchanok Institute, a public higher education institute that caters to public health workers, Opas stated that the school is set to start recruiting medical students next year. The goal is to increase the number of doctors serving in rural areas, enhancing accessibility to Thai healthcare. The institute, which previously offered nursing and public health and health sciences across 39 colleges nationwide, launched a new medical degree this year to address the shortage of health workers in the country, reported Bangkok Post.

Meanwhile, the National Health Security Office (NHSO) board member and Aids Access Foundation director, Nimit Tianudom, expressed his reservations about Pheu Thai’s public health flowchart. The flowchart, aimed at enhancing the country’s universal healthcare scheme, also known as the gold card, proposed the remodelling of the queuing system and the use of ID cards for all health affairs, initiatives that the NHSO has already implemented.

“The management of human resources and the improvement of the healthcare database [should be] the two main goals [for Pheu Thai]. The next public health minister should spend his term working on the entire public health system, not just the gold card scheme.”

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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