NHSO insists healthcare for stateless people job of Health Ministry

national March 11, 2014 00:00

By Pongphon Sarnsamak
The Nation

The National Health Security Office (NHSO) insisted yesterday that the Public Health Ministry should be responsible for providing healthcare services to the 95,000 or so stateless people awaiting citizenship.

With reference to previous news reports that the NHSO had abandoned this group, NHSO chief Dr Winai Swasdivorn said the agency was only complying with the March 2010 Cabinet resolution, in which healthcare coverage for this group was handed over to the Public Health Ministry. He said that under the National Health Security Act, the NHSO could not provide healthcare for stateless people.

In 2009, the NHSO had proposed providing healthcare for more than 450,000 people registered with the Interior Ministry, but the government rejected the proposal and instead handed the job over to the Public Health Ministry. The ministry then sought a budget of over Bt900 million per year to provide health coverage to this group.

Then in 2013, the NHSO discovered that some 95,000 of these people had been receiving universal healthcare since 2010, so in compliance with the law, it had these people transferred back to the Public Health Ministry.

According to the Interior Ministry, only about 5,000 to 6,000 stateless people are granted Thai citizenship every year.

Meanwhile, Dr Bancha Khakhong, director of the Public Health Ministry’s Health Security Bureau, said the 95,000 names that the NHSO had transferred to the ministry were new and had not been included in the list of people eligible for the ministry’s services.