Research Shows That Thailand’s Healthcare System Is Managing Noncommunicable Chronic Diseases Such As Diabetes In An Excellent Manner
A variety of noncommunicable chronic diseases such as diabetes
are on the rise in Thailand
as the country transitions to a high-middle-income country.
A study by medical researchers from Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) and Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok identifies the strengths and weaknesses of diabetes
care in Thailand
's universal healthcare
system. Published in the journal PLOS ONE
, the study found that the majority of Thai adults with diabetes
were never diagnosed, but that most of those who were diagnosed did receive treatment and got the condition under control.
Dr. Andrew Stokes, Assistant Professor of global health at BUSPH and the study's corresponding author told Thailand Medical
News, "Our findings highlight both the achievements of universal healthcare
and also the opportunities that remain both on a national level and regionally to ensure that people living with diabetes
are integrated into care."
The medical researchers used data from the 2014 Thai National Health Examination Survey, which included both face-to-face interviews and a physical exam portion that collected blood samples after overnight fasting. Of the 15,663 Thai adults included in the study, 8.8% appeared to have diabetes
based on their blood samples and/or reporting being treated for diabetes
. Of those who appeared to have diabetes
, the researchers found that 67.0% reported ever being screened for diabetes
, 34.0% reported being diagnosed, 33.3% had been treated, and 26.0% had their diabetes
Study co-author Dr. Piya Hanvoravongchai, lecturer in the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine in the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University further added, "Thailand healthcare
systems may have put emphasis on expanding coverage both in terms of population coverage and healthcare
benefit packages, which they did quite well with relatively low cost and limited resources. Nevertheless, this paper highlights the importance of improving the quality of care, especially primary care and public health promotion and disease prevention,"
The medical researchers found that living in areas with more medical staff and health centers, such as the south and central parts of Thailand
and in urban centers, as well as being older, made a patient more likely to be diagnosed and to have their diabetes
Study lead author Dr. Lily Yan, a resident at Boston Medical Center and a master of science student at BUSPH commented to Thailand Medical News
, "This suggests that investing in infrastructure in resource-scarce areas could have improved outcomes for diabetes
. To address the gaps at screening and diagnosis, that might require also expanding efforts beyond the clinic into community settings where people could get tested for high blood sugar where they live and work, and then get linked with medical care. In order for health systems to intervene effectively, they have to first recognize that there is a problem."
Reference : Lily D. Yan et al, Universal coverage but unmet need: National and regional estimates of attrition across the diabetes care continuum in Thailand, PLOS ONE (2020). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0226286