Over 100 state hospitals seek NBTC assistance

Over 100 state hospitals seek NBTC assistance

Officials spray Kamalasai Hospital in Kamalasia district of Kalasin with disinfectant on Tuesday. (Photo by Yongyuth Phuphuangphet)
Officials spray Kamalasai Hospital in Kamalasia district of Kalasin with disinfectant on Tuesday. (Photo by Yongyuth Phuphuangphet)

More than 100 state hospitals have sought financial assistance from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), which on Wednesday resolved to set aside 1 billion baht from its coffers for medical facilities and public health agencies in the fight against the Covid-19 outbreak.

The NBTC said the sum will be drawn from its fiscal 2020 budget and the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Research Fund (BTRF).

Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the NBTC, said on Thursday that the agency was looking for other financial sources under its management to support state hospitals in need of assistance.  

Hospitals are being allowed to apply for financial assistance from the NBTC from yesterday until June.

“The planned 1 billion baht may be not enough now, as the number of state hospitals seeking assistance is very much higher than expected even on the first day of the request,” Mr Takorn said.

He said the BTRF board will start looking into proposals lodged by state hospitals next week and is expected to gradually approve qualified hospitals and consider how much money will be given.

“We must quickly provide money for the hospitals to ease their suffering as the first priority under the Covid-19 crisis,” Mr Takorn said.

He said the 1-billion-baht initiative is likely to fall short of demand, though the government may also be considering redirecting budget from ministries, especially for their seminars, to efforts against the pandemic.

Hospitals or public health agencies which need financial assistance can contact the regulator’s BTRF.

According to Mr Takorn, the assistance will only be given for tasks in the fight against the outbreak. The recipients cannot spend the money on other purposes, he said.

The NBTC said the 1 billion baht could be used to establish field hospitals to handle  Covid-19 patients or procurement of necessary medical equipment.

The sum is deducted from the NBTC's overseas study trips, travel expenses for management and board as well as planned seminars. 

The NBTC expects its assistance to set a precedent for other state agencies or corporates to consider reallocating budget deemed unimportant to others in more need.

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