Call to improve safety as health officials face threats, assaults
Health officials in Thailand have been subjected to numerous threats and assaults in the past decade while doing their job.
Provincial Public Health Pharmacy Club president Jira Wipaswong revealed on Friday that an incident on Wednesday - where a team of health officials was threatened by a knife-wielding woman in Buri Ram - was one of many incidents in the past decade.
Jira has urged the Public Health Ministry, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to review safety measures to protect personnel during consumer protection-related operations, especially when making visits to other sites.
As examples, he cited other cases including an Udon Thani official who was assaulted while performing his duty, and officials in Nakhon Pathom and Lamphun were sued by business operators.
He also urged the ministry and the FDA to provide aid and remedial measures to damaged officials, rather than just counselling, as officials facing lawsuits had to pay their own lawyer's fee against accusations.
The incident on Wednesday, which was caught on camera and circulated on social media, showed the daughter of the factory's owner, holding a knife and scolding officials who were checking documents.
Buri Ram Health Office's Consumer Protection and Pharmaceutical Department head Kanokporn Chanakham, who is also a pharmacist, said the incident took place while officials were checking on a drinking water factory.
The video showed the woman pushing a bottle in an official's hand which caused her hand holding the knife to "brush" the official's arm.
The officials left the area and did not press charges. They later learned the woman suffered from mental issues.
This incident, however, brought the office to consider reviewing the safety measures for operative officials, she said.