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Phuket hospitals reject migrant insurance

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PHUKET: Financial difficulties in the healthcare system is leading to pregnant migrant workers in Phuket Province being denied access to Universal Coverage (UC) health insurance scheme when they deliver babies.

Usually migrant workers in Thailand are allowed to buy health insurance in order to get access to affordable services while living in the Kingdom, paying 2,100 baht annually for UC insurance. That insurance is equivalent to coverage under the 30 baht scheme widely used by citizens.

However, many migrant workers’ families in Phuket face bankruptcy due to medical expenses incurred after having a baby, as they have to pay the full cost of health services. The Provincial Public Health Office has stated that hospitals will be overburdened with expenses if it allows pregnant workers to buy insurance.

Mu Mu Ten, a 38-year-old Myanmar migrant worker and mother of two children, wept when asked about the condition of her youngest child, who was born just a week ago with lung problems and is still in the hospital.

The serious illness affecting her newborn son was not the only cause of her distress; her family is now mired in a financial crisis due to the medical expenses.

“My child was born premature. His weight was only 1,300 grams and his lungs are not fully functional. He is now being treated at Vachira Phuket Hospital and the doctor said he needs to be in intensive medical care for at least one month,” Ms Mu said.

She said expenses from the health problems of her newborn added to the cost of a Caesarean-section operation amounted to at least 100,000 baht owed to the hospital, even though she has valid UC insurance, which is meant to cover expenses related to giving birth.

“I had to borrow money from my employer and my friends to pay for this expense. I’ve managed to pay 60,000 baht, but there is another 40,000 remaining,” she said, adding that her husband earns just 350 baht per day.

She said her employer would deduct 2,000 baht from her salary twice a month towards repayment of the debt, while the family also has to pay back money borrowed from friends at an interest rate of 20 per cent.

“We don’t know what to do. We have to pay to keep our son alive and we just keep working to pay the debt,” she said.

Some women are forced to abandon their babies at hospitals as they’re being denied the universal health coverage.

Sumana Pakburawat, coordinator of Migrant Worker’s Network in Phuket (MNP), said Ms Mu was only one example among many Myanmar migrant workers in Phuket who suffered the same fate.

“Every month, there are around 100 cases of migrant workers giving birth in public hospitals in Phuket who are unable to use their rights specified by their UC insurance. Among these, there are 10 cases of mothers abandoning their child at the hospital every year because they have no money to pay for the medical expenses. This has been a serious and chronic problem in Phuket for almost six years now,” Ms Sumana said.

She said many pregnant migrant workers were also unable to renew or buy UC insurance at Phuket’s public hospitals, which obstruct them from seeking proper medical care during pregnancies and force them to pay the full cost of medical expenses.

According to the MNP, there are around 300,000 migrant workers in Phuket, nearly half of whom have not registered with authorities or have UC insurance.

Meanwhile, Dr Prapornsri Narinrak, Phuket Provincial Public Health Office deputy director, said that the Public Health Ministry had a policy to help migrant workers receive affordable medical services. However, it is also the duty of each hospital to properly manage its finances to ensure the survival of the hospital.

“We treat every patient coming to us and in many cases we allow them to get free medical services at the hospital’s expense as humanitarian aid for those in need,” Dr Prapornsri said, adding that last year public hospitals in Phuket spent up to 4.6 million baht on such cases.

She admitted that public hospitals in Phuket had a policy not to sell UC insurance to pregnant migrant workers, as the Public Health Ministry allowed doctors to exercise discretion on whether or not to sell it.

“We consider that pregnant workers cannot work and the medical expenses for this group is very high, so we have decided not to sell UC insurance to this group,” she said.

“It is financially irresponsible for the hospitals to sell 2,100 baht insurance and then have to spend up to 20,000 baht per case.”

The Provincial Public Health Office disclosed that in the 2016 budget year, three public hospitals in Phuket – Vachira Phuket Hospital, Patong Hospital and Thalang Hospital – spent a total of 94.11 million baht on medical services for migrant workers, which included neonatal services.

The average expense for a conventional delivery starts at 6,000 baht, while Caesarean sections cost 12,000 baht or more.

Patong Hospital Director Dr Sirichai Silapa acha urged employers to help hospitals because they benefit from cheap labor, so they should provide a subsidy for workers or set up funds to help pay for medical expenses.

— The Nation

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Events

Phuket Monopoly game creators need your help with token designs

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Phuket Monopoly game creators need your help with token designs | The Thaiger

Phuket is set to get its own version of the popular game MONOPOLY and its creators want your help with ideas for the specialised tokens. ‘MONOPOLY: Phuket Edition’ was announced last month which will see the street art on the board game replaced with that of famous places around Thailand’s famous tourist destination. Such art will include beaches, hotels, shops, markets and other popular attractions.

Jennifer Lau from Winning Moves UK, is producing the game under official license from Monopoly brand owners, Hasbro. Lau says the tokens will feature a holiday theme. The token’s departure from the original theme of wheelbarrows, boots, iron, and thimbles as well as popular sports cars and hats.

“We have had a wealth of emails and suggestions coming in for Phuket, so thank you for each and every single one of them! We are taking them all into consideration whilst putting together the design of the game.”

“We wanted to change the tokens so that they would be more suitable for an island like Phuket, where so many people like to go on holiday to.”

“There will be six themed tokens that replace the original and we want to hear your suggestions for what these tokens should be!”

Bangkok has already been featured in the Monopoly game as it came out for purchase back in 2018.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket holds vaccine administration rehearsal as it waits for green light

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Phuket holds vaccine administration rehearsal as it waits for green light | The Thaiger

Phuket is rehearsing procedures to ready themselves for the Covid‐19 vaccine administration green light. A rehearsal at Vachira Hospital’s Lan Muang Khao open area was held late yesterday to iron out any kinks in the administration process. Phuket Vice Governor Pichet Panapong watched over the procedures along with other health officials.

Pichet says the first vaccine round of 4,000 doses should arrive early in March, with the 2nd and 3rd set of doses, 16,000 and 48,000 respectively, to arrive in April and May.

“The government recognises the importance of the affected areas of the economy where the epidemic situation of COVID-19 must be stopped and has allocated the COVID-19 vaccine to Phuket Province to build herd immunity, restore the economy, return a smile to Thailand.”

“We are preparing to COVID-19 mass vaccination to build confidence among the people that they will receive a quality, safe vaccine and to receive follow-up care after it has been administered.”

Pichet says Phuket’s first target groups to receive the vaccine include medical and public health personnel, with others on the frontlines to come next.

Then, workers aged 18-59 years old, people with underlying diseases including chronic respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, cerebrovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity will follow.

“People with severe neurological conditions and pregnant women should be wary of taking the vaccine, as well as women who are breastfeeding and people with immunodeficiency.”

The procedure to get vaccinated starts by recipients undergoing screening by having their temperatures taken, and then sanitising their hands before entering the administration area. Then, they will move their way through a series of steps, detailed below:

Step 1: Register

Step 2: Record weight and blood pressure

Step 3: Pass the screening process by have their medical history and risk assessment recorded and then signing a consent to receive the vaccine

Step 4: Wait for vaccination

Step 5: Vaccination

Step 6: Rest for 30 minutes, while being observed for symptoms. Then scan the official Line account “หมอพร้อม” (“Doctor Ready”)

Step 7: Pass a final check before receiving a document confirming vaccination

Pichet says health workers will follow up with vaccine recipients after 1,7, and 30 days from being vaccinated to monitor any adverse reactions.

Those who are set to receive their second jab will have appointments made for them. Those who receive the Sinovac vaccine will be scheduled to have their second doses 2 to 4 weeks after the first. AstraZeneca vaccine receivers will be scheduled for their second doses 10 to 12 weeks after the first.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Phuket

Phuket police officer charged with attempted murder for shooting and critically injuring a noodle vendor

Caitlin Ashworth

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Phuket police officer charged with attempted murder for shooting and critically injuring a noodle vendor | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Siamrath

The drunk, off-duty police officer in Phuket who has caught on camera shooting and beating a noodle vendor on Bangla Road is now facing attempted murder charges as well as charges of carrying a firearm in public without a necessary reason and firing a weapon in a public area. The commander of the Phuket police station said he ordered investigators to prosecute the officer Pornthep Channarong with every criminal charge that can be applied.

The officer had gotten into an altercation just before dawn yesterday and shot a young vendor who was walking by. Surveillance camera footage show the 25 year old suddenly falling to the ground after being shot. The officer walks up and shoots the vendor at a close range, but it appears the second shot did not hit the vendor. The officer also slapped the vendor in the face, picked him up and shoved him over, and then kicked him as he lay on the ground.

The vendor has a 4 year old daughter and 3 month old son. His wife says normally he works as a motorbike driver, but he was helping his mother selling noodles. He was shot while he was walking back from collecting a noodle bowl, she says. The vendor is in critical condition and being cared for at Vachira Phuket Hospital’s intensive care unit. He’s in need of Type B blood.

“For his condition, the doctor told me that the bullet went through his lung. He lost a lot of blood. We need a lot of Type B blood for him.”

A disciplinary investigation into the incident was launched by police and Pornthep was officially dismissed from the Royal Thai Police force. Region 8 Police Commander Kitrat Panpetch says the incident does not reflect the police force in Phuket.

“The incident was caused by an officer who did something wrong that our organisation does not want. We are a big organisation with more than 200,000 officers under our control. Our officers are not all bad like this.”

Phuket Provincial Police Commander Pornsak Nuannu says he has reminded the police chiefs across the island to discuss reasons for carrying firearms in public.

“Carrying firearms is to prevent any type of crime that may happen, not to commit a crime by themselves like this incident. If I see any police doing such a thing, I will decisively proceed in terms of both officer discipline and criminal charges.”

SOURCE: Phuket News

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