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Racha islander: Health center necessary to save tourists’ lives

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Racha Yai islanders on Saturday urged Phuket Governor Maitri Inthusut to build a health center on the popular day-trip isle as one way to solve the problem of tourist drownings there.

The Chinese embassy has already promised money to support the construction of the center, they said.

“To save tourists’ lives, we need a health center on the island. Right now victims need to be transferred to the mainland for advanced medical help, and it takes too long, about 50 minutes,” said Sarit Jandee, head of the Racha Island Conservation Club.

“The island has only one nurse, employed by The Racha hotel. She responds when there is an emergency, but sometimes the victims need more advanced medical help,” Mr Sarit said.

He asked the governor to provide a doctor and a nurse to staff the medical center, saying that islanders would provide land for the center free of charge, and the Chinese embassy would build the structure.

The request came while Governor Maitri was visiting the island in response to an ultimatum issued by Mr Sarit, who on October 3 asked the government to deal with tourist safety within 15 days or, he said, islanders would set their own safety conditions for tour companies (story here).

In addition to the health center, Mr Sarit also stressed the need for lifeguards and for more training of guides who bring day-trippers to the island.

In response, Krit Sakulpat, the deputy chief of the Phuket Provincial Health Office, said he would analyze the feasibility of a health center.

“We need to consider the registered population, the number of visitors and the severity of health problems,” he said.

“It is possible to open a health center – maybe not with a doctor on staff 24 hours, but one who comes to work at peak times,” he said.

According to Mr Sarit, 50 people are registered residents, but about 700 more, hotel staff and residents, also live on the island. About 500 tourists stay overnight on the island, he said.

As for day-trippers, Mr Sarit said the number varies substantially depending on the season and weather. He had previously stated that 800 to 1,000 day-trippers visit the island on any given day during the low season (story here).

Governor Maitri set a meeting for tomorrow to discuss tourists’ safety at Koh Racha Yai, along with other longstanding island problems, including improper wastewater disposal, garbage, insufficient number of moorings and speedboat controls.

During his walking inspection of the island, Gov Maitri chatted with tourists.

“If you think this island is as beautiful as I do, please tell your friends to visit. We will improve our measures to make it safer here for everyone,” he told one visitor.

— Saran Mitrarat

 

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