The shortage of medical staff has been projected as a key obstacle in improving Thailand's healthcare and medical services in time for the launch of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.
Boonruang Triruangworawat, director-general of the Department of Health Service Support (HSS), said as many as 17,000 positions would need to be filled as the country prepares for the advent of the regional initiative.
Dr Boonruang said border hospitals are facing serious staff shortages, a cause for concern as patients from neighbouring countries would have easiest access to these hospitals.
Thailand shares borders with four countries - Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Malaysia. As Thai medical services have a reputation for meeting international standards, Dr Boonruang said patients on the borders of those countries would cross over to use Thai hospitals.
HSS is upgrading medical equipment, technology and personnel in both state and private hospitals in border provinces.
"Medical staff working in border provinces should be able to speak the local language of the neighbouring country," said Dr Boonruang. He said staff in the southernmost provinces should know Bahasa Melayu, while staff in northern provinces should know Myanmar.
About the author
Writer: PARITTA WANGKIAT