Thu, June 30, 2022

in-focus

Big chunk of medical budget spent on migrants


THE Public Health Ministry has spent nearly 50 per cent of its Bt2.255 billion budget in providing medical treatments to foreign migrants in 31 border provinces across the country from January to June, according to Health Promotion Centre Region 5 inspector-general Dr Pisit Sriprasert.

Dr Pisit said the unreimbursed expenditure amounted to Bt1.1 million. The situation has prompted officials to implement a new action plan by establishing provincial-level border public health offices to handle related work including the financial management in various forms such as healthcare cards for border pass holders, a Bt2,700 per head annual health insurance for migrant workers, as well as setting up a border health fund and special budget allocation to reduce the burden on hospitals, Pisit said.
The Health Promotion Centre Region 5, which covers Kanchanaburi, Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan provinces, catered to 213,130 foreign migrants – of whom 102,531 were migrant workers, 76,407 were persons whose nationality was unclear and 34,192 were born in Thailand but had not obtained Thai nationality. Also, an unknown number of foreigners crossed the border for short-term stays, Pisit said. 

Big chunk of medical budget spent on migrants
The treatment costs on migrants in these four provinces amounted to Bt425 million from October 2017 to June 2018 but 52.6 per cent or Bt223 million became outstanding debt, he said. Ratchaburi alone had treated 136,881 foreign migrants, at a cost of Bt141 million, of which 42.64 per cent or Bt60 million were not recovered.
Pisit also said that the Health Promotion Centre Region 5 had four key issues:
1 The high fatality rates of mother and newborn babies;
2 Some people seeking treatments did not belong to any health security scheme hence the hospitals/healthcare facilities had to shoulder the expenses and had a problem in patient referral;
3 Some disease epidemics such as tuberculosis and malaria because of inconsistent treatments, which also led to drug-resistant germs, and a vaccine shortage;
4 The smuggling of unsafe or illegal health products in and out across border.
Pisit reported the information to Deputy Prime Minister General Chatchai Sarikulya during his visit on Thursday to Suan Phung District Hospital in Ratchaburi province, as it was a good model for medical facilities in managing and aiding people including foreign migrants. 
Chatchai noted that the issue of budget was a persistent one that the government had to tackle via existing systems. He said the Suan Phung District Hospital took care of the locals while also treating migrants with or without collecting payments for expenses on the humanitarian principle. 
Suan Phung District Hospital director Dr Chatthakorn Thanyakiat said the facility supported 60,341 people in the area. They include 27,225 Thais under the universal healthcare scheme, 4,363 Thais under the social security scheme, 1,933 people with civil service health coverage, 16,299 persons pending verification of Thai nationality, 6,700 residents of a refugee camp, 832 migrant workers, and 2,989 “stateless people” – the most frequent visitors at 24,000 times per year – resulting in Bt2.4 million of unrecovered payments.

Published : June 22, 2018

By : THE NATION