In a significant move aimed at bolstering oral healthcare nationwide, the Thai government is on the verge of creating a specialized dental health department, as confirmed by the Public Health Ministry. The announcement, made by Permanent Secretary for Public Health, Opas Karnkawinpong, underscores the government’s commitment to improving dental health across the country. While the proposal to establish this new department has garnered approval from the Senate Public Health Committee, discussions with the incoming health minister are still pending.
Although the department’s establishment is expected to unfold over several years, the Public Health Ministry is resolute in its determination to bring its services to the public as soon as possible. As part of its comprehensive oral healthcare promotion initiative, the ministry is planning to inaugurate a dental hospital in each of Thailand’s 77 provinces. This strategic move will ensure widespread access to oral healthcare, particularly benefiting residents in remote areas.
Opas also shed light on the impending launch of a medical school at the Praboromarajchanok Institute, a prominent public higher education institution specializing in training public health workers. The medical school is poised to commence student recruitment next year with the primary objective of bolstering the number of doctors serving in rural regions, thereby enhancing healthcare accessibility across Thailand. This initiative comes as a response to the shortage of healthcare professionals in the country and complements the institute’s existing programs in nursing, public health, and health sciences. The Bangkok Post has reported that the institute introduced a new medical degree program this year to address this pressing issue.
In a related development, Nimit Tianudom, a board member of the National Health Security Office (NHSO) and director of the Aids Access Foundation, expressed reservations about Pheu Thai’s proposed public health flowchart. This flowchart, designed to enhance Thailand’s universal healthcare scheme, also known as the gold card, suggests redesigning the queuing system and introducing the use of ID cards for all healthcare-related matters—initiatives that the NHSO has already put into practice.