Prawase calls for care of ageing society
Thailand needs to focus on improving its community-based healthcare system and self-care among older people in preparing for the growing elderly population in the coming decades, according to social critic Prawase Wasi.
Giving a speech during a ceremony on the occasion of the 120th birthday of Phra Bamrajnaradun, Thailand's former public health minister who was the great reformer of the Thai healthcare system, Dr Prawase said that as Thailand has already become an ageing society, with the number of elderly expected to massively grow in the coming decades, the country needs to move its healthcare system from being hospital-based to community-based.
According to the United Nations, the proportion of the elderly in Thailand is expected to reach 19.5% in 2030 and by 2040 a quarter of the Thai population could be over the age of 65.
"If we don't change, healthcare spending will rise significantly in the coming decades, so the community-based healthcare system in which each community supports older adults to maintain or improve their health, care for themselves, and continue living at home as long as possible should be promoted seriously," he said.
Dr Prawase said that the elderly will need a variety of community services to achieve these purposes in the future, such as interdisciplinary healthcare teams working with them in the community.
"A lot of the national budget each year is being spent needlessly on people with non-serious conditions such as common colds and sore throats which can be easily avoided by self-care because we are using a defensive strategy to cope with the problem," he said.
Dr Prawase said the community-based healthcare system is a proactive strategy that would help Thailand provide effective healthcare coverage in the long run.
"In the 1970s, a contraception programme was introduced to Thailand, aiming to lower the birth rate.
"We have been very successful as the country's fertility rate declined to 1% in 2011 from 3.3% back then.
"So I believe that we will be able to achieve another transition in healthcare methods," he said.