MEECHAI RUCHUPAN, chairman of the Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC), said yesterday that the draft charter does not deprive the public of the right to free universal healthcare.
He was speaking at a meeting with high-ranking Public Health Ministry officials which was broadcast live to public health offices across the country.
Meechai rejected rumours that the draft charter took away citizens’ right to free universal healthcare, which is also known as the “gold card”.
He said Article 258 (4) stipulated that the public healthcare security system would be adjusted so people can have equal access to quality healthcare. The charter drafters had also kept effective and efficient management of the national health security fund in mind when writing the law, he said.
Jon Ungphakorn, adviser of the group Health Conscious People, asked last month if the draft charter would give free universal healthcare only to the “less privileged”.
“If this is the case, then the universal health care system will become a health system for ‘the poor’ instead of belonging to every citizen. Plus, ‘the poor’ would only get the lowest or third-class service compared to other groups of people,” he said.
Nimit Thien-udom, director of Aids Access, said the draft charter’s coverage of health was “the worst” in the past 20 years, because drafters had ignored the concept of ensuring equality in healthcare.
“The draft only focuses on the poor and the less privileged for the healthcare system,” he said.
He said it appeared the drafters had given the powers-that-be blank cheques regarding healthcare.
“When they think the cost of healthcare is too high, then they can make people pay for the service. The future government does not have to commit to free universal healthcare, and can take it out of the public welfare system,” he said.
He added that the most worrisome thing is that the private sector and the public were being deprived of the right to participate in the healthcare system.
“The healthcare system does not just concern doctors and the Public Health Ministry. It is like this because the charter reform does not focus on ensuring equality,” he explained.