By The Nation
“We have promoted IPE because we believe medical-worker supply planning should not be just about producing more medical workers. We have to think about how to distribute and retain them too,” the foundation’s secretary-general, Professor Wanicha Chuenkongkaew said.
Thailand is struggling with a shortage of medical staff. Although the ratio of doctors and nurses to the population has improved, medical workers are usually concentrated in towns and cities.
The ratio of doctors to population in Thailand was at 1:2,893 in 2010, which is significantly better than 1:3,277 in 2001.
The ratio of nurses to population also improved, from 1:794 in 2001 to 1:531 in 2010.
Shortage in remote areas
“But undeniably, medical facilities in remote areas still lack enough medical professionals to fill local demand,” Wanicha said. “This has affected the delivery of medical services to people and their health in the long run”.
The IPE initiative has encouraged the Public Health Ministry, health organisations and educational institutes to work together in learning about local communities and developing innovations through research to respond best to the shortage of medical staff.
The initiative has received support from the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, and Ubolrat Hospital and Nam Phong Hospital in Khon Kaen province have joined the initiative.
Ubolrat Hospital director Dr Apisit Thamrongvarangoon said the IPE encouraged his team to survey local areas and learn more about health problems there. “This allows us to address health issues more efficiently.”