Hospitals in North ready for patients hit by PM2.5 pollution: Anutin
The Public Health Ministry’s permanent secretary is visiting northern provinces to ensure people suffering physical problems from the worsening pollution can get medical help.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Tuesday that Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, the ministry’s permanent secretary, is in the North to monitor people’s health in response to the worsening PM2.5 pollution.
Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Loei and Mae Hong Song are among the northern provinces where PM2.5 ultra-fine dust in the air rose well beyond the safe threshold mainly due to forest fires and slash-and-burn farming methods in the North and neighbouring countries.
PM2.5 is fine particulate matter that is less than 2.5 microns in size and can lodge in the lungs. As of press time, PM2.5 readings in some parts of Chiang Rai had crossed 200 micrograms per cubic metre of air (µg/m³), well beyond Thailand’s safe limit of 50µg/m³ and the World Health Organisation’s limit of 12µg/m³.
Anutin quoted Opas as saying that hospitals in the North are fully prepared to treat people suffering from air pollution-related conditions. He added that hospitals have also stocked enough intravenous medication that may be required for people suffering from severe shortness of breath or worse.
Anutin said Opas has the authority to make his own decisions on which areas are eligible to receive masks against PM2.5, as the ministry cannot distribute N95 masks to everybody.
The minister also said that hospitals would prepare special treatment rooms fitted with an air-filtering system for patients suffering breathing difficulties due to PM2.5.
Anutin said some 4,000 patients seek treatment for respiratory illnesses per week in the North, adding that all public hospitals are well-staffed.
Meanwhile, the Chiang Mai Breathing Air Council held a rally at the Tha Pae Gate in Muang district, demanding that the government pay attention to the worsening pollution. They held up banners saying they did not want to be killed because of bad pollution and also handed out masks to passers-by.