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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Thailand Will Fall if it Loses the Isaan Worker

or so the National News Bureau of Thailand (NNT) seems to allude to in "Public Health ministry allocated THB198mil to fight Opisthorchis Viverrini in Northeast" addressing the liver diseases that have been rampant in Northeast Thailand for some years now. I say for "some years" because I have recent experience with the health care system and liver diseases in Isaan during the death of a friend. When a doctor was going on about how rampant these diseases were I made the mistake of suggesting that this issue be addressed in schools and rural health clinics. His answer was laughter.
The rural clinics do the best they can with the resources they have.
"Mr. Surawit said that Opisthorchis Viverrini and Cholangiocarcinoma are two major causes of death in the northeastern region, killing more than 28,000 people each year and causing significant damages to the region’s economy and community while also posing threats to national security." Add to that the other liver diseases and you can see that Bangkok might run out of maids, nannies, construction workers and cab drivers in just a few years, and Thailand would fall for sure.
I don't know if any of you spend much, if any, of your time in government, including health care, offices, but there is one thing that can be found in a place of importance in all of them..... the TV, and it is playing soap operas or other popular drivel. Hours every day no matter how busy the clinic, hospital, amphor, post or immigration office watching Thai TV is an important and not insignificant part of the day. Of course the visitor to the office finds it an useful diversion while waiting hours to be seen.
I have brought this up in a number of provinces, when suggesting that they shut off Thai TV and run educational and Public Service programming. Just imagine Thai Media Superstars donating their time to do PSAs about diet, drinking, smoking, driving and other subjects of importance. Also remember that recent ONET scores show Thais at best 41% literate in their own language and read about 8 lines of print a year, so printed information is of little or no use.
I am aware that 200 Million Baht is necessary to line the pockets of government officers and contractors. But what is necessary to save the people of Northeast Thailand is commitment, honesty, leadership and realism all traits that are already on their deathbeds in Thailand.