Genomics action plan approved until 2024

Genomics action plan approved until 2024

Medical R&D and services covered

R&D. (Bangkok Post file photo)
R&D. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Yesterday the cabinet approved a five-year action plan to drive genomics development during 2020-24, worth 4.5 billion baht.

The government aims to increase competitiveness in the medical industry, one of 12 targeted sectors promoted for the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).

Nathporn Chatusripitak, a spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, said the action plan covers R&D and development of medical services for genomics, infrastructure and human resources.

Genomics is the branch of molecular biology concerned with the structure, function, evolution and mapping of genomes.

"Genomics is a significant technology that can help develop Thailand as the region's medical hub. The action plan should help draw private investment and joint ventures between government agencies and potential private firms," he said. "The EEC Office needs to team up with the Board of Investment to work out plans to promote the industry and encourage related agencies to conduct R&D and private investment."

Mr Nathporn said genomics technology, once achieved, will help save 70 billion baht a year worth of medical treatment expenses for five key conditions, cutting the transcription cost for genetic code that costs about 18,000 baht per transcription.

The five conditions are HIV, acute coronary syndrome, diabetes, cancer and stroke.

Yesterday the cabinet also approved a budget of 34.83 billion baht from 2018-27 for the medical doctor development programme.

The first stage of the programme aims to develop 9,168 doctors between 2018-21, with the second phase targeting 15,394 doctors between 2022-27.

The project wants to upgrade Thailand's public health to ensure a ratio of one doctor for every 1,200 people, close to the ratio in developed countries.

Mr Nathporn said the cabinet also approved the extension of aid measures for newborn babies, including assistance up to age six for children of low- income earners who earn less than 100,000 baht a year.

A study showed the most critical development period for children is the range from newborn up to age six.

The cabinet will pay 600 baht a month for each child in this age bracket.

In 2015 the body approved paying 400 baht per month to the parents of newborns until the babies reach one year of age. In 2016, it approved paying 600 baht to parents of newborns until they reach three years, but only for low-income earners who earn less than 36,000 baht per person per year.

In 2019, the government will allocate 13 billion baht for 1.4 million children, falling to 12.5 billion baht in 2020 for 1.75 million children, then rising to 14.5 billion for 2 million children in 2021. The final allotment is 14 billion baht for 1.9 million children in 2022.

The annual number of births is expected to drop to 1.8 million in 2023 and 2024, reducing the budget to 13 billion baht a year during that period.

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