November 02, 2012 00:00 By PONGPHON SARNSAMAK
Winners chosen for their work in fighting disease, improving healthcare
The Medical Council of Thailand has honoured three physicians this year for their dedication and outstanding work towards improving the country’s healthcare system.
The prestigious award was handed over to Dr Khachonsak Silapaphochakul, Dr Witthaya Chartbanchachai and Dr Supamit Chunsuttiwat as part of the Thailand Medical Expo held at Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Centre yesterday.
The winners, selected by a panel led by Dr Supachai Kunarattanaphreuk, were chosen from a list of nominees submitted by 1,120 medical organisations including state hospitals, provincial public health offices, royal colleges and other institutions.
This award recognises doctors whose work has been beneficial to the public and who have helped improve the country’s healthcare system. The council usually considers three groups for this award – lecturers, physicians, or doctors who have been working as hospital executives for more than two years.
Dr Khachonsak, who teaches at Prince of Songkla University, was named outstanding lecturer of the year. He completed his undergraduate studies at Mahidol University’s Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital in 1973, before completing his training in infectious diseases at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, the United States in 1983. He started lecturing at Prince of Songkla University in 1978 and retired from the job in 2006. Now he works as a special lecturer.
The 63-year-old, who is fondly called the “mobile library” by his students, has always worked on finding ways to treat and reduce mortality from non-communicable and communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV/Aids, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), bird flu, Rickettsia and Leptospirosis. Results of his studies have been published in several international medical journals and he is often invited to speak at forums held by medical institutes in the US, Sweden and Singapore.
Dr Witthaya, who worked at the Khon Kaen provincial hospital, was recognised for being the first doctor to conduct laparoscopic gall-bladder surgery. He is also recognised for developing a comprehensive system for emergency cases, including maintaining medical records and information about the patient’s condition, as well as setting up a referral system and an emergency care centre that has been certified by the World Health Organisation.
The doctor completed his undergraduate studies at Mahidol University’s Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital in 1977 and underwent training in emergency treatment in several countries, including Sweden, Australia and Japan. He started his medical career at Kranuan Crown Prince Hospital in Kranuan district, Khon Kaen, in 1978 before moving on to the provincial hospital in 1983. He now heads the hospital’s emergency care and critical therapy centre.
The third winner, Dr Supamit played a key role in the national strategy to control the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), bird flu and H1N1 influenza over the past few years. He was also a key campaigner in the battle against polio, which has not been visible for more than a decade now. He has also helped set up the Vaccine Institute to develop vaccines locally.
Dr Supamit, 57, graduated from Mahidol University’s Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital in 1978, before switching over to the Faculty of Public Health to complete his master’s degree in 1984. He then trained at the US Centres for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, and later at the National Medical Centre in Tokyo.
He kick-started his career at Mukdaharn Hospital between 1979 and 1982, before moving to work at the Public Health Ministry’s Department of Disease Control as a chief of virology and Rickettsia. He also worked as director of the Disease Control Division and Disease Control Coordination and is now a senior health expert for preventive medicine.