6 June 2024

Public Health Permanent Secretary Dr. Opart Karnkawinpong has proposed the use of state hospitals to produce more dentists, to address the current shortage at state hospitals. More than half of the some 800 graduates in dentistry in Thailand choose to join private hospitals or to work independently for greater financial gain.

He said today (Saturday) that, since state medical schools are capable of producing hundreds of doctors each year, state hospitals should be able to accommodate students in dentistry and to produce graduates to meet the demand.

He said there is no need to invest in new buildings for dental colleges, as the existing facilities at numerous state hospitals have the capacity to train dental students.

Dr. Opart pointed out, however, that there are some problems which discourage dental graduates from working in state hospitals that need to be addressed, such as unattractive financial rewards, career paths and welfare.

He said that dentistry graduates should be able to work beyond office hours and to receive extra pay at state hospitals which provide dental services after office hours, to cater to the public demand.

He disclosed that he has asked health officials where they normally receive their dental treatment and most of them said they go to private dental clinics.

As for the problem of career paths for dentists working in state hospitals, Dr. Opart said that they should be able to reach the C9-level, which is equivalent to doctors.

He cited the case of state nurses, whose career path was recently upgraded so nurses can reach C8, or specialist level, resulting in more than 10,000 senior nurses being promoted.

Lately, the Regional Health Office proposed that there should be a chief dental officer at every regional office, he said, adding that he has instructed the public inspector-general to accept the proposal for consideration.