By The Nation
Hospital director Dr Somboon Tosborvorn said the recent news of a 44-year-old, self-described epileptic patient who lost control of his pickup truck in Chon Buri’s Pattaya City, killing two people and injuring 15 others, prompted the Public Health Ministry to set up a committee to establish health guidelines.
The driver later tested positive for drugs, but his initial claim of having suffered an epileptic seizure has put the issue in the national spotlight.
The guidelines to be complete by the end of March 2018 are based on health requirements in developed countries and will be considered for implementation as law later, he said.
The hospital will join the Association of Occupational and Environmental Diseases of Thailand in training doctors to provide health checks in line with the guidelines to issue medical certificates required for driver’s licence applications.
The guidelines cover illnesses that could affect drivers’ abilities, including nervous system disorders such as epilepsy, strokes, head injuries and Parkinson’s; cardiovascular diseases such as arrhythmia, heart attacks and some forms of diabetes; and other illnesses, he said.
People with specified illnesses would be suspended from driving temporarily pending treatment until doctors deem their condition is safe for driving, he said.
Department of Medical Services chief Dr Somsak Akksilp said the results of a survey of 5,346 taxi drivers from December 2012 to May 2013 found that 33.1 per cent of respondents had a chronic illness.
Among that group, 37 per cent said they had high blood pressure, 28.1 per cent vision problems, 26.1 per cent diabetes, 0.5 per cent Parkinson’s disease or other nervous system disorders, 0.3 per cent schizophrenia and 0.2 per cent epilepsy.
The physical examination that was part of the survey found that 32.6 per cent had bone and muscle illnesses, 20.3 per cent showed signs of stress and 13.6 per cent had symptoms of a nervous system disorder.
The survey found that 56.6 per cent of taxi drivers had Body Mass Index (BMI) ratings qualifying them as overweight, 70.4 per cent high cholesterol, 38.2 per cent high blood pressure, 11.6 per cent hyperglycemia, 5.2 per cent metabolism disorders, 2.5 per cent tuberculosis and 1.9 per cent were colour blind.
About 24 per cent of taxi drivers admitted to having been involved in an accident, while 34.8 per cent said they had “almost” had an accident.
As high blood pressure, chronic illnesses and eyesight issues were linked to road accidents, health checks for eyesight, physical reactions and five prohibited diseases was no longer considered to be sufficient, he said.
The Public Health Ministry’s Department of Medical Services and Nopparat Rajathanee Hospital were in response formulating the “Fit For Drive” guidelines for driver’s licence applications in cooperation with the Transport Ministry, Somsak said.