More efforts urged for medical hub status
Nation will benefit from vaccine work: Prasit
Thailand needs to seize on the opportunity to be Southeast Asia's first medical hub before new pandemics emerge in the future, urged the dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, Prasit Watanapa, on Thursday.
Dr Prasit made the call at an event titled "Thailand's Mega Trends Forum 2020", which was organised by Forbes Thailand at Centara Grand & Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld on Thursday.
In his remarks, he said the world has gone through five pandemics since the beginning of the 21st century -- namely Sars (2002), swine flu (2009), Mers (2012), Zika (2015) and Covid-19.
"Humans, animals and the environment are intertwined. As long as we cause climate change, we will face new diseases, as the migration of [animal] vectors brings about the rapid spread of viruses," he said.
"Covid-25 and Covid-30 will come. Three months ago, I warned of a second wave [of the coronavirus]. We should learn to tackle it and identify an opportunity."
Dr Prasit said there is an urgent need to step up disease prevention measures, because the 11 Covid-19 vaccines which are now in their third phase of efficacy trials are being fought over by richer, developed nations -- especially those being developed in the United States.
"Our local development is very limited because we still import vaccines from abroad. However, vaccination is now a matter of national security," he said.
"I don't think CLMV [Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam] countries will set up vaccine factories.
"Indonesia is the only exception [in the region]. Thailand should tap into this opportunity now that we know our strengths in handling Covid-19."
Also, he said, Thailand should improve its diagnostic capabilities if it wants to be known as the region's medical hub.
"If we can enhance our health literacy, everything will become much more convenient. We can predict the risk of cancer, drug allergies, and optimise medical procedures. With the help of AI technology we have received from China, we have been able to diagnose Covid-19 much faster and with increased accuracy," Dr Prasit said.
"5G technology has helped support telemedicine. Currently, we are collaborating with Huawei to develop AI and Deep Learning technology for healthcare, which other countries in the region are not able to do. Thailand is a leader."
He also urged the kingdom to better utilise information technology to improve health literacy, as well as patient experience.
"Your carer can alert you [remotely]. We can develop this kind of technology if the government supports us," he said.
- medical hub