24 rare diseases added to UHC scheme

24 rare diseases added to UHC scheme

The board of the National Health Security Office will include 24 rare but severe diseases into the universal health coverage scheme. (Photo by Chinnawat Singha)
The board of the National Health Security Office will include 24 rare but severe diseases into the universal health coverage scheme. (Photo by Chinnawat Singha)

The board of the National Health Security Office (NHSO) on Thursday agreed to include 24 rare but severe diseases into the universal health coverage scheme.

The board also set aside an additional budget of 12.85 million baht to fund treatment of these diseases.

This means that an individual with any of these 24 diseases — known as inherited metabolic disorders —  registered under the health care scheme will receive free treatment.

The inclusion of these diseases into the scheme took effect for the fiscal year 2020 starting yesterday, said Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul after chairing a meeting of the NHSO board.

Inherited metabolic disorders or inborn errors of metabolism refer to different types of medical conditions caused by genetic defects that interfere with the body's metabolism.

This expansion of the health scheme’s coverage is expected to benefit about 250 patients per year, including 52 new cases, Mr Anutin said.

"This means expensive medicines [required for treatment of these diseases] will be provided free of charge under the scheme,” he added.

A group of patients suffering from these rare diseases yesterday expressed their gratitude towards the board’s decision. Among them was Nong Aei, a six-year-old girl diagnosed with Tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) deficiency, a neurological condition caused by an inborn error of metabolism.

If a person is diagnosed with any of these 24 diseases, they will be referred to one of the seven large hospitals capable of treating them, namely Chulalongkorn Hospital, Siriraj Hospital, Ramathibodi Hospital, Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health, Phramongkutklao Hospital, Thammasat University Hospital and Srinagarind Hospital.


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