Thai health ministry plans dental hospital in each province to boost care access

Picture courtesy of University of Phayao.

In a bid to tackle the absence of adequate oral health facilities, Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health has unveiled a plan to establish a dental hospital in each of the country’s 77 provinces. Dr Opas Kankawinpong, the ministry’s permanent secretary, underscored the urgent need for increased dental care coverage during a seminar, highlighting that with the current number of dentists, adequate provision of dental care to the country’s 70 million strong population remains a distant goal.

“We need to ensure our citizens have access to dental services at least 140 million times per year, considering that everyone should consult a dentist twice annually. Unfortunately, right now our existing dental infrastructure can only cater to 10 million annual visits — a mere 7.1% of the total need.”

Dr Kankawinpong expressed the ministry’s determination towards achieving comprehensive healthcare for Thai citizens, which includes robust oral health. He stressed the need for a significant increase in the number of both practising dentists and dental facilities to improve the citizens’ access to much-needed treatment, reported Bangkok Post.

“The total number of dentists currently in employment at state-run hospitals is approximately around 6,000. Each year, around 800 students acquire a Bachelor’s degree in Dentistry but the concerning fact is that only a quarter of them choose to work in state-run setups.”

The ministry harbours an ambitious goal of administering 100 million dental health sessions within a decade. As things stand, to achieve this goal it would take half a century, unless significant changes are made, one of which includes the establishment of more dental hospitals.

By the end of the year, the ministry intends to upgrade 39 dental departments within state-run hospitals to the status of dental hospitals. This includes respected establishments such as Buddhachinaraj Hospital in Phitsanulok, Lam Luk Ka Hospital in Pathum Thani and Than To Hospital in Yala. Dr Kankawinpong said…

“Our aim is to ensure every province hosts a dental hospital by the next year. Essential collaborations are underway with the Budget Bureau and the National Health Security Office for sanctioning the requisite finances to construct dental hospitals nationwide.”

Besides catering to the dental needs of the population, these new facilities will also pave the way for career advancement opportunities for dentists willing to manage such specialised hospitals.

Thailand News

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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