The government is being urged to enforce stricter laws to ensure the safety of massage services after actor Sombat Methanee fell ill following a foot massage.
Amasseuse presses acustomer’s foot with a small wooden stick duringafootmassage session at a recent health promotion fair in Bangkok. Health officials have been urged to monitor hygiene at massage services followingan actor’s complaint that he fell ill after having afootmassage. PATIPATJANTHONG
Masseur Serat Tangrongchitr, administrator of Wat Po's Thai Traditional Medical School, is calling for more safeguards after Sombat's illness sparked worries over whether massage services and spas meet hygiene standards.
Sombat was rushed to a hospital on March 26 after he developed chest pains and a high temperature. His foot was also swollen.
Doctors said the actor was suffering from a blood infection and was admitted to intensive care. He is now recovering.
The symptoms emerged soon after he received a foot massage at Udon Thani airport.
His family believes the massage might have been connected, though they are not sure how, and no solid evidence has emerged to back the claim.
Mr Serat said the government should take this opportunity to raise hygiene standards among massage operators.
"Laws must be enforced more strictly and wrongdoers must face harder punishments," he said.
He cited his business as an example of a massage service that meets hygiene and safety requirements.
Masseurs are not allowed to wear jewellery to avoid the chance of injuring the customer's body, he said.
He said they are also required to ask whether customers have diabetes, known to be a factor in wounds that are hard to heal, and examine whether customers have wounds on their feet while cleaning them in water mixed with disinfectant.
Looking for wounds on the body is an important step to prevent blood infection because bacteria on human skin can enter the body through these wounds, Somchai Nitphanit, chief of the Department for Development of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine said.
A patient with a foot wound or who is wounded by some device while being massaged could be vulnerable, as the act of massaging will expand the blood vessels, allowing germs to easily enter the body, Dr Somchai said.
Masseurs need to be aware of customers' state of health and avoid offering services to those who have even small wounds or who have heart and kidney conditions, he said.
Somkit Sithanu, a 50-year-old masseuse, also added diabetes as a risk. If diabetes patients want to use her service, she will not press their muscles hard but will give them only a soft massage.
At the MBK shopping mall where she offers massage services, she always asks her customers whether they have certain diseases or wounds and, before offering the massage, will double-check for any irregularities on their bodies again.
Mr Serat said all masseurs should adopt such precautions so they can decide whether to give the service or how to adapt their massage to suit customers' needs.
He said masseurs must be educated on how to avoid health risks to themselves and their customers.
Customers also need to be careful about whether massage services are certified and meet standards of hygiene, he said.
Wararat Boonkate, 24, goes for a massage once a week. She gauges the service by a store's cleanliness and the number of customers.
After the Sombat case, she said she will be more careful about choosing where to go and take stock of her health before having a massage.
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- Writer: Patsara Jikkham