11 July 2024

Thailand’s Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, has floated the idea of denying free medical treatment to Thais who cross borders illegally to work in Myanmar, only to return infected with COVID-19, and infected illegal gamblers.

In his Facebook post on Saturday, he said he had attended a meeting with a group of medical personnel and had a heavy heart when some of the doctors mentioned ongoing illegal gambling.

He added that the doctors also talked about the recent arrival of infected Thais from Myanmar into Mae Sot district of Tak province, who were admitted for treatment at the district hospital, and another 200 Thais, who illegally crossed into Myanmar to work and are waiting to return, several of whomhave tested positive for the virus.

The minister then asked the doctors whether it is worth the taxpayers’ money to provide free treatment for these law breakers, while many law-abiding citizens are losing their income, their employment or their job opportunities.

He then cited Sections 41 and 42 of the Communicable Disease Control Act, which clearly spells out that those who bring infected people into the country in their transport, or thoseinfected who arrive in Thailand from abroad, must bear the costs of quarantine and medical costs.

Anutin said that the doctors didn’t agree with him, however, noting that his idea of denying free medical treatment to such people may be unconstitutional, citing Section 47 of the Constitution, which states that every individual is eligible to protection and treatment for dangerous diseases by the state, free of charge.

He said that he would, however, float his idea to other agencies,to work out some sort of measures to prevent those who behave irresponsibly from taking advantage of the taxpayer funded universal healthcare system.