Inmates at 143 prisons nationwide are to be tested for tuberculosis in a joint project by the Department of Disease Control (DDC) and the Corrections Department.
The scanning follows lung x-rays that were performed on all 280,000 inmates last year that helped detect 3,905 inmates with signs of tuberculosis, double the 1,589 cases detected in the previous year. Eighty-three among the 3,905 reportedly had drug-resistant tuberculosis.
DDC director-general Dr Suwannachai Wattanaying said this project by the DDC Bureau of Tuberculosis - which recently won the Office of the Public Sector Development Commission's Lear Rath award 2018 for outstanding public service - proved successful last year.
DDC Bureau of Tuberculosis director Dr Phalin Kamolwat said if the tuberculosis inmates were not diagnosed and treated, they would likely spread the disease to others in the same cell block.
If any inmates were found with the disease in this project, they would be put in a separate quarantine section within the prison during the disease-spreading phase and be required to take medicines daily in front of a prison guard, she said.
Tuberculosis remains a contagious disease that poses public health problems in Thailand. The World Health Organisation ranked Thailand as one of 14 countries with serious public health pandemics associated with HIV/AIDS and drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Among those at risk of tuberculosis includes inmates (due to living in crowded conditions they have a 10 times higher risk while they also had limited access to diagnosis and treatment), the elderly, those living with HIV, diabetes patients, trans-national workers and public health personnel.
As part of the country's national plan against tuberculosis for 2017-2021, Thailand has set a goal to reduce the tuberculosis incidence rate by 12.5 per cent per year so the ratio of 170 to 100,000 population in 2014 would be down to 88 to 100,000 population by the end of 2021 and then to 10 to 100,000 population in 2035.