Re: “Healthcare demand has hospitals in Northeast close to ‘collapse’”, National, October 3.
The incident cited in the report highlights the crisis in the country’s healthcare system, which has been under tremendous pressure since the introduction of theuniversal healthcare policy.
According to international measures, Thailand now boasts a healthcare system comparable to that of developed countries, having leapt from 41st to 27th on the Bloomberg Health Care Efficiency Index ranking and coming 9th among countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Yet we keep reading news stories about the horrible conditions in Thai public hospital wards.
Many people are quick to blame the situation on the universal healthcare policy, a legacy of previous governments. However, they should be reminded that universal healthcare is a means to improving equality in society, by extending medical care to the poorest who would otherwise be unable to afford it.
The blame for the crisis lies more in the way the system has been managed. The recent horrible incident at Khon Kaen Hospital may be just a reflection of how understaffed and under-budgeted the hospital is, in the face of skyrocketing demand triggered by the universal scheme. It’s not an isolated incident but rather a warning signal of a far more serious potential systemic failure.
Instead of castigating healthcare staff who are under such tremendous pressure on a daily basis – many haven’t been paid for overtime for months – we should empathise with them and give them a big round of applause.