In order to improve the health service for prisoners, the Department of Corrections has been operating through integrated process in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health and the National Health Security Office continuously focusing on providing health service, solving the issue on health insurance system for prisoners who are ineligible for health care rights (prisoners without 13 digit Thai identity number) and synchronizing the technological information between the Department of Corrections and the National Health Security Office.
In this regard, the meeting with the executive members and working group members had been held to seek for solutions, supervising the operations, conducting site visits and integration to ensure that the operation was carried out concretely and to register prison infirmaries under the Department of Corrections as the contracted units of primary care within the national health insurance system with the intention to provide all prisoners, a fragile and disadvantaged group with an access to health service from public health units equally.
The improvement of health service for prisoners (The registration of the Bang Kwang Infirmary as a contracted unit of primary and referral care and the announcement on registration of the 128 prison infirmaries as the contracted unit of primary care within the national health insurance system)
The purpose of the improvement of the health service system for prisoners is to provide the prisoners, who are considered a fragile group lacking social opportunities with an access to public health service. Even though prisoners are entitled to health rights as all citizens are, it was found that there is still inadequacy of public health service for these prisoners which may lead to chronic illness, severe condition or death. The current number of the prisoners under the responsibility of the Department of Corrections is 366,316 (as of October 1, 2018). The budget for prisoner health care system is supported by Universal Coverage budget from National Health Security Office and given to the hospitals for distributing to Thai prisoners in the responsible district areas. However, the principle factor for the provision of the access to prisoner health service depends on the efficiency and the readiness of the medical tools and human resource of the hospitals in each area.
The Department of Corrections has been giving priority to the prisoner health care and public health insurance rights. Moreover, on 17 November 2015, the cabinet resolution suggested a policy and proposed an improvement of law which contributes to continuous collaboration between the Department of Corrections, Ministry of Public Health and the National Health Security Office, focusing on the registration rights to the access to health service and registering prison infirmary which is under the Department of Corrections as a Contracted Primary Unit of the National Health Security System. To achieve such goals, the meetings and open discussion were held from the executive member level to the working committee level with a mutual intention to seek for the solution and approach allowing all prisoners, who are considered fragile and lack social opportunities, to access public health service equally. It was also expected that the prison infirmaries would be improved and had a higher level of service proficiency. In this connection, the Memorandum of Understanding was signed allowing the registration of 128 prison infirmaries as contracted units of primary care and Bang Kwang Central Prison as a contracted unit of primary and referral care within the national health insurance system.
Translated by Suthida Konglertmongkol