Surin Hospital picked as pilot for cross-border health push

SURIN : The Public Health Ministry is aiming to boost healthcare cooperation with Cambodia to improve services for border communities.

Public Health Minister Pradit Sintawanarong said border hospitals in Buri Ram, Si Sa Ket and Ubon Ratchathani will come under the project, which will be piloted at Surin Hospital.

"We will take border healthcare problems as an opportunity to seek solutions, rather than seeing them as a burden," Mr Pradit said.

The ministry has encouraged all state-owned hospitals to improve efficiency ahead of the launch of the Asean Economic Community in 2015, based on the ministry's criteria of safety, quality of equipment, and disease prevention and control.

Some 152 hospitals nationwide, including Surin, have met the criteria.

Surin Hospital is fully equipped with CT scanners, mammograms, echocardiograms and other essential equipment. The hospital has 2,000 staff to take care of Surin's population of 1.4 million. The hospital currently serves an average of 3,000 out-patients per day.

Surin Hospital director Thongchai Triwiboonwanich said the hospital would sign a memorandum of understanding with Oddar Meanchey Referral Hospital on the Cambodian side of the border to boost healthcare collaboration.

The agreement would include emergency or severe case referrals between the hospitals and the sharing of disease alerts.

Surin Hospital recently launched a foreigners' service centre to serve patients speaking languages other than Thai.

Many rich and high-ranking officials from Cambodia have visited Surin Hospital for health services, Dr Tongchai said.

However, Dr Tongchai said humanitarian healthcare for the poor remained a priority.

The hospital spent 1.7 million baht last year treating migrant workers who could not afford treatment.

Oddar Meanchey Referral Hospital director Khlok Huot said there was a shortage of medical specialists and facilities in the Cambodian province.

Only 76 staff were available to serve more than 200,000 people in the province, he said.

Ultrasound, X-rays and a surgical theatre with basic equipment are the best facilities in the hospital, he said.

"Given these conditions, working as a partnership is necessary to develop healthcare [in the province]," Dr Huot said.

Dr Pradit is also scheduled to discuss healthcare cooperation with Myanmar later this month.

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Writer: Paritta Wangkiat
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