Phuket set to launch B3bn medical plan

Phuket set to launch B3bn medical plan

A man is buried in the sand on Hat Mai Khao Beach in Phuket as he believes it can help cure his paralysed limbs.  (Sarot Meksophawannakul)
A man is buried in the sand on Hat Mai Khao Beach in Phuket as he believes it can help cure his paralysed limbs.  (Sarot Meksophawannakul)

Phuket is proposing a medical tourism plan with a budget of 3 billion baht.

The project will be stationed on a 141-rai area on Hat Mai Khao Beach, one of the most picturesque beaches in the resort province.

Director of Vachira Phuket Hospital Chalermpong Sukontapol said on WednesdayPhuket, a "world-class tourist destination", has embraced tourism in the "new normal era" by seeking to elevate medical tourism to an international level.

Dr Chalermpong said the plan is being discussed by executives at the Public Health Ministry and the Tourism and Sports Ministry before it is submitted to cabinet for consideration.

He said the aim is to cushion the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the medical and public health sector. Funding for the project will come from loans borrowed by the Finance Ministry to rehabilitate the economy and society severely hit by the virus.

The idea to promote medical tourism in Phuket was initiated in 2017 when Noraphat Plodthong was governor of Phuket, Dr Chalermpong said. The idea was to combine the province's two strengths -- medical services and tourism -- together.

In the first phase of the project, four medical facilities will be established including an international health plaza, a premium long-term care centre for the elderly, a hospice care centre for terminally-ill patients, and a comprehensive rehabilitation centre.

With a budget of 1.29 billion baht, the first phase of the project is expected to be completed in September next year.

One-stop services such as consular, accommodation and tour services will be available at the project site on Mai Khao Beach on the northern part of the island.

The second phase of the project has been scheduled for 2022 under a budget of 1.67 billion baht.

This phase will focus on the prevention of Covid-19 or other pandemics in the future. A cancer treatment centre with radiation therapy machines and comprehensive care will be established during this phase.

"The project would project the image of Phuket as a place for affordable medical services and world-class tourism," the hospital director said.

There are already about seven to eight international medical centres in the province such as brain and heart surgery centres, a hyperbaric medical centre, a minimally invasive surgery centre, and an autism centre.

Phuket has a total of 277 Covid-19 patients, second only to Bangkok.

Every time a pandemic occurred there was a high chance it would spread in Phuket, the doctor said.

He said the province was preparing for reopening with the goal to make tourists feel safe to travel to Phuket again.

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