THE NATIONAL Health Security Office (NHSO) has some “gifts” for the holidays, including improved colostomy bags and hormonal medicines for premature puberty.
The government agency is previewing “New Year 2019 Gifts” for the 48 million people covered by the universal healthcare scheme.
Other “gifts” include 180 video-call booths around the country where hearing-impaired people will be able to call the 1330 hotline for advice and help, and a Facebook chatbot that can answer frequently asked questions.
Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn yesterday said the NHSO would implement these five projects next year.
The NHSO and Thai Telecommunication Relay Service will first collaborate on a scheme to let hearing-impaired people access the 1330 hotline via the latter’s booths, website and the phone application “mymmx ttrs video”. Calls to the NHSO centre will be relayed with a help of a TTRS sign-language translator.
Beginning in January, people calling 1330 via a landline will be charged just Bt1 per call, with no limits on the length of the call, down from the current Bt3. Calls from cell phones will be charged Bt1 for every 15 minutes, down from the current 42 satang per minute.
Piyasakol said savings would amount to Bt776,642, calculated as 53 per cent of the amount people are currently spending on the service. About 686,000 calls come in each year, generating Bt1.46 million in phone charges.
The NHSO is a public organisation and cannot waive all phone charges, the minister said, but the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission agreed in November that the charges could be reduced.
Next, the NHSO Facebook page, which currently has 770,000 posts and 110,000 followers, will soon have a chatbot handling questions most frequently asked about healthcare benefits and switching medical facilities.
Colostomy bags worn post-surgery by colon-cancer patients and the hormonal suppressants Leuprorelin and Triptorelin used to slow precocious puberty were made available under the health scheme in October, the beginning of 2019 fiscal year.
Piyasakol said colostomy bags made from rubber, an invention that won an award in 2017 for a Prince of Songkla University research team, would make life easier for the 54,000 users in the health scheme.
The NHSO will add at least two more locations to the 19 places where citizens can register for the health scheme, he said.
The current 19 points are in Bangkok district offices that maintain weekday office hours.
Registration will be possible at two branch offices of the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC).
A registration point at the BACC’s branch at Mor Chit Bus Terminal is already operating, and a branch at Ying Charoen Market will open on January 17.