Phuket island medical hub in the works
Cabinet to study uni proposal next month
Prince of Songkla University is pushing to make Phuket a medical hub capable of providing high-quality treatments for locals and tourists.
Pun Thongchumnum, vice president of the university, told a forum yesterday the university is planning to develop the province into a medical hub and attract residents and tourists seeking treatment.
The forum was being held at a hotel in the province, attended by a broad spectrum of people.
If approved by the cabinet, Mr Pun said the project would develop treatments of complex conditions such as cancer and cardiac arrest. It would also train physicians capable of administering the treatments.
If the plan goes ahead, locals in Phuket and the Andaman coastal provinces could be treated near their homes as provincial health centres are not able to handle them presently.
The project also aims to reduce the cost of treatments and transport for patients.
As a medical hub, Phuket would aim to stimulate the economy by attracting foreign visitors seeking medical treatment.
Mr Pun said Phuket would also be made ready to handle the kingdom's ageing population, who will need more medical care.
The Management Innovation Development Center (MIDC) is studying the plan and will decide on further action. Attendees of the forum will be given opportunities to voice their opinions on the project.
Mr Pun explained that the project is divided into four parts: a university hospital that provides tertiary care and high-tech treatment with long-distance medical transport for foreign patients; a global-standard dental hospital; a wellness centre for elderly care, sports therapy and traditional treatment; and a medical school to produce doctors, pharmacists, nurses, traditional doctors and medical laboratory scientists.
The university will propose a budget for the project during a mobile cabinet meeting in the province scheduled for Nov 2 and 3.
Mr Pun said the university will work with Vachira Phuket Hospital while its staffers take up medical education and improve treatment methods for complex diseases.
Asst Prof Theerawat Hungsapruek, dean of the university's Faculty of Management Sciences, said 9,036 locals have taken 13,542 flights to other regions for advanced medical treatment.
In 2030, 19% of Thailand's population will be ageing, while in 2050, the country will be classified as an ageing society, he said.
This is an indication that Thailand desperately needs to train more physicians and care workers, as well as procure more and better medical equipment to prepare for this situation.