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Lost ID? No Problem! How Thailand’s New Eye & Facial Recognition System is Revolutionizing Healthcare Access for Migrants & Refugees

In an effort to improve healthcare services for migrant workers, refugees, and ethnic communities, a pilot project utilizing eye and facial recognition technology has been developed by the Department of Disease Control in Thailand, along with its partners, the Thai Red Cross Society and the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (Nectec). The project is aimed at collecting patient data for individuals who have lost their identification documents, facilitating better access to essential health services.

The pilot project will be launched in five provinces, including Bangkok, Samut Sakhon, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Tak, and Chon Buri. During its first iteration last year, the initiative successfully collected personal identification data of 60,000 people, demonstrating promises of increased efficiency in healthcare processes for public health officials. In preparation for this expansion, the department is currently coordinating documents, equipment, and training courses for staff and local public health volunteers in the five target provinces.

Dr. Tares Krassanairawiwong, the department’s chief, highlighted the benefits of using eye and facial recognition technology in disease control, particularly during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. He emphasized that it has been challenging to follow up with non-documented groups in terms of infection rates and vaccination statuses, as their lack of identification documents and frequently changing temporary number codes issued by authorities can make tracking their healthcare needs difficult.

By implementing this innovative technology, the Department of Disease Control aims to overcome these barriers and ensure that healthcare services are efficiently provided to migrant workers, refugees, and ethnic communities across the five pilot provinces. This effort will not only help individuals with lost identification documents access essential medical treatment but also contribute to a more comprehensive system for managing public health crises like the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ultimately, the success of this pilot project in Thailand could serve as a blueprint for other countries seeking to leverage novel technologies, like eye and facial recognition, to revolutionize healthcare services for their disadvantaged populations. By integrating these advanced tools, governments can create a more inclusive, efficient, and resilient healthcare system that caters to the specific needs of diverse communities, ensuring that no one is left behind in the pursuit of better public health.

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