Thailand launches first mobile renal dialysis unit for remote patients

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

A groundbreaking initiative in Thailand’s healthcare sector recently saw the Public Health Ministry introducing the country’s first mobile renal dialysis unit. Its creation aims to reach bedridden patients residing in the more remote regions of the country, which previously had limited access to such specialised medical treatment.

The announcement was made yesterday by Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul. He indicated that this mobile dialysis move signifies the Department of Medical Services (DMS)’s ongoing effort to incorporate cutting-edge technology into standard medical treatments. He said…

“In this era, we [doctors] not only wait for patients to visit us, but we will also visit them.”

This is not the Department’s first effort in reaching remote patients. A mobile stroke unit, offering free treatments in remote regions, was rolled out previously by the DMS.

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As part of the ministry’s ambition to widen the scope of its kidney dialysis services, it also plans to provide this mobile dialysis service free of charge to beneficiaries of the universal healthcare “gold card” scheme. This move comes in response to an alarming upsurge in chronic kidney disease cases based on last year’s data, where one in 25 patients diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension was also found to be suffering from CKD.

The mobile dialysis unit itself is a trailblazing project. Anutin said…

“The mobile kidney dialysis unit, supervised by Nopparat Rajathanee Hospital, is the first unit of its kind in Thailand and the ASEAN region. More beds will be added in the future.”

According to the DMS director, Thongchai Keeratihattayakorn, while 23,414 stage-5 chronic kidney disease patients in Thailand are currently being treated with continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis, a staggering 49,609 require haemodialysis.

However, despite the existence of over a thousand clinics providing haemodialysis throughout the nation, geographical limitations often deny remote patients access to this vital form of treatment.

The mobile units are equipped with two dialysis machines furnished with standard systems to eliminate bodily waste from patients. Each mobile dialysis unit is manned by a haemodialysis expert, an assistant nurse, and a kidney specialist. Designed to operate three times per day, these units communicate patients’ symptoms to doctors using a mobile application. At present, these units are faced with the task of treating 50 patients per day to sufficiently meet demand, reported Bangkok Post.

The mobile dialysis programme is currently being piloted in Nong Sua in Pathum Thani, according to Dr Thongchai.

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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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