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Thailand’s Shocking Response to Looming Health Crisis: Will Doorstep Medicine be the Nation’s Healthcare Revolution?

In an ambitious bid to significantly reduce the glaring shortage of healthcare professionals in Thailand, the Praboromarajchanok Institute (PI), which is under the Thailand Ministry of Public Health, has unveiled a strategic blueprint. This notably includes the establishment of a dedicated faculty of medicine, announced Anutin Charnvirakul, the Minister of Public Health, in his recent meeting with ministry officials.

The strategy, envisioned by the institute, primarily aims to alleviate the existing problem of overcrowding in many of the country’s major hospitals. The mechanism that PI proposes employs a community-based approach wherein a comprehensive range of healthcare services are made accessible at local community levels. In simpler terms, the plan is to bring the hospital to the people’s doorsteps by expanding the healthcare infrastructure into local communities and tambon promotional hospitals.

The institute’s roadmap doesn’t stop here. It further seeks to leverage local resources by training health volunteers within each tambon to act as practical nursing personnel, unfolding the potential of community-level human resources to elevate healthcare services. The result? A higher density of nursing staff promising more holistic care, as covered in a recent report by Bangkok Post.

Anutin contextualized the operational objectives of the to-be-formed PI’s medical faculty: “The faculty of medicine will contribute to improving public health services by nurturing a capable and professional workforce.”

Similarly, Soranit Siltharm, serving on the subcommittee within the Consortium of Thai Medical Schools (CTMS), confirmed the readiness of the 18 healthcare institutes under the CTMS to welcome a total of 2,380 students to their medicine, dental surgery, veterinary medicine, and pharmacy programs in the upcoming year. The aim is not to increase the quantity but to bring diversity to the dental surgery program especially by accepting students from non-science backgrounds.

Soranit also explained the Thailand Professional Aptitude Test 1, an examination executed by CTMS. The test registration, that comes with 800 baht (US$23) fee, will be open from 1 to 20 September, with aspiring medical professionals scheduled to sit for the all-important examination on 16th December.

Addressing the doctor shortage issue, Soranit argued that the root cause is the unequal distribution of medical professionals. He outlined, “The battle is not to increase the influx of doctors but for a balanced distribution. A large segment of the healthcare workforce is primarily stationed within urban habitats.” Thus, while increasing enrollments in the medical program is a positive step, proportional population distribution is a decisive factor to make a significant difference in overcoming the nation’s healthcare deficit.

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