BANGKOK – Thailand’s National Health Security Office (NHSC) has expressed concern that cutbacks in the Junta’s budget for free health care from 3,374.70 baht to 3,100 baht per head per year will affect the health service quality in state hospitals.
The NHSO is the public organization responsible for administering accessible healthcare for all Thai citizens.
Thailand’s Military Government has trimmed the funding of health care service for 2017 fiscal year by 13 billion baht from 141,916 million baht to 128,533 million baht or 274 baht short of the 3,374 baht/head/year requested for the country’s 48 million people covered by the health care system.
NHSC spokesman Atthaporn Limpanyalert said Friday that the office had to adjust the health benefits for the 48 million people covered by the health care system accordingly with the budget cutback.
However, he pointed out that the budgetary cutback has been the norm in the past several years as the NHSC has never received the full amount of budget it requested from the government.
Atthaporn reported that the 13 billion baht cutback was a huge amount and the office managed to convince the Budget Bureau to add an addition of 500 million baht.
The junta has pushed various attempts to cut the budget for the universal healthcare policy and remove it from the junta-sponsored constitution.
In September 2016, Thailand’s junta-appointed lawmakers signed off on a nearly US$124 million budget hike for defence spending, while funds for education, healthcare and infrastructure were pared back.
The army, navy and air force received a 2 per cent budget increase, taking next year’s spending to 210.7 billion baht, according to the Budget endorsed by the hand-picked National Legislative Assembly.
It is the third straight year of increases in state spending for defence since the coup.
Mr Paul Chambers, a Thailand-based expert on the military, told AFP that perhaps the rise does not appear to be breathtaking but the amount of spending by the Military is remarkable, adding that it was unclear how the spending had been justified.
While a breakdown of spending has not been disclosed by the government, sources have indicated to IHS Jane’s recently that the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) allocation, which is expected to reach about THB42 billion, includes funding to support the procurement of up to three S26T (Thailand) diesel-electric submarines, a modified export version of the Yuan-class (Type 041) at the cost of 13.5 billion Baht or 376.86 million USD.
Seems the budgetary cutbacks to Thailand’s universal healthcare, that will effect 48 million Thai citizens comes to almost the same amount (Bt13.5 Billion) needed to by the three diesel-electric submarines from China.