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A Promotional Privilege Framework for Medical Hub Revised to Strengthen Health Systems

NHCO / Story of the Month  / A Promotional Privilege Framework for Medical Hub Revised to Strengthen Health Systems

The new Promotional Privilege Framework for the Health Industry jointly done by the Board of Investment of Thailand and the National Health Commission Office is completed awaiting for public hearing. The Promotional Privilege Framework shifts from supporting medical hub policy to strengthening Thai health systems.

The Thai public health circle was shocked late last year when the Office of the Board of Investment (BOI) announced the criteria for its promotional privileges for the health industry, in particular for the investment projects that would develop Thailand into a medical hub.

It offered tax reductions and privileges for hospitals with investment projects but would in fact promote medical brain drain. The move is opposedby many organizations, health networks and academics because it will affect medical services for people in the country and contradict the Statute on the National Health System of 2009 with respect to health services and quality control.

Fear that the move could aggravate medical brain drain prompted the then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva in his capacity as Chair of the National Health Commission to suspend the plan of the BOI and order the BOI and the National Health Commission Office of Thailand (NHCO) to form a Joint Working Group to review the framework and details of all promotional privileges for the health industry in order to prevent potential negative impacts. BOI Secretary-General, Atchaka Sibunruang, and Advisor to the NHCO, Dr Narongsakdi Aungkasavapala, headed the working group. After over four months of work, the working group proposed a “Promotional Privilege Framework for the Health Industry” to the National Health Commission. There will be public hearings to gather opinions from all concerned parties before the implementation of the framework which is intended to guarantee the health interest of all people in the country.

Dr Amphon Jindawatthana, Secretary-General of the National Health Commission, says the Promotional Privilege Framework for the Health Industry is different from the previous promotional privilege framework of the BOI that envisioned Thailand as the medical hub that would treat foreign patients. The reviewed framework is the result of brainstorming of the working group and invited academics from the Ministry of Public Health, and aims to strengthen the Thai health system. It specifies four categories of promotional privileges for health services and products: 1) promotional privileges for private hospitals;2) promotional privileges for the medicine industry;3) promotional privileges for the development of medical equipment in Thailand; and 4) promotional privileges for businesses catering to the elderly.

“With the new Promotional Privilege Framework for the Health Industry, the NHCO and the BOI agree that large-scaled pri