Thai public health ministry to establish a new dental health department

The Thai government has announced that it aims to establish a dedicated dental health department to promote oral healthcare in the nation.

While the establishment of the department is expected to span over a few years, the Ministry of Public Health is determined to push the service to the public as the department is being set up, said the ministry’s permanent secretary, Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, to Thai media on 31 Aug.

Dr Opas said the cabinet has acknowledged the Senate Public Health Committee’s proposal to form the new department, which will be discussed with the incoming health minister.

Dr Opas also added that the proposed medical school at the Praboromarajchanok Institute will recruit medical students in 2024 so more doctors can be deployed in rural areas.

This follows the ministry’s announcement on 6 Aug of its plan to open one dental hospital in each of the nation’s 77 provinces, aimed at enabling core access to oral health especially for its upcountry residents. The public higher education institute which caters to public health workers, has also launched a new medical degree this year to address the shortage of health workers in the country.

The new dental health department will offer its services as it is being set up (Image: NCD Alliance)

These developments come in the wake of the 15th National Health Assembly from 20-21 December 2022, where the National Health Commission (NCPO) approved policy proposals for the development of the oral health system in Thailand. The proposals include the development of a primary oral health service system, an oral health information system and an environment conducive to oral health.

Dr Chonlanan Srikaew assumed the office of the nation’s minister of public health on 1 Sep, after resigning as the leader of the Pheu Thai Party after forming a coalition with the military-linked Paland Pracharath Party.