Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan presided over the ceremony, held yesterday (Dec 3) at the Ministry of Finance headquarters in Bangkok. Also present to receive the land were Public Health Deputy Minister Dr Satit Pituthecha and Public Health Permanent Secretary Dr Kiattaphum Wongrajit.
Deputy PM Prawit said that the government had accorded importance to providing healthcare to the people of Phuket and its visitors from around the world, noting that Phuket has long been an important tourism destination in Thailand, but one that was recently impacted by the spread of COVID-19.
Development of the new plot should help rebuild confidence in the province, as well as Thailand’s health system, he added.
The land, in total 141-2-64 rai (141 rai 2 ngan 64 talang wah) is to be developed into a medical service centre aimed at elevating health tourism to Phuket as part of plans to turn the island into a medical destination post COVID-19.
Part of the plot has also been entrusted to Vachira Phuket Hospital for the creation of international-standard facilities for the treatment of the elderly, heart conditions and physical therapies covered under the national economic and social rehabilitation policy. It is believed that use of the land by the Ministry of Public Health will bring considerable economic benefits.
With Vachira Hospital Phuket Director Chalermong Sukontapol present at the ceremony, it was explained that the aim was for Vachira Hospital to establish a medical and public health service centre with comprehensive international-level services. called the ‘International Health Plaza’.
The development is also to include an International Geriatric Care Center (“Premium Long Term Care”), a Hospice Care Center, a ‘Jai Rak Center’ for heart conditions and the establishment of a comprehensive physical rehabilitation centre.
Deputy Health Minister Dr Satit said the Ministry of Public Health was working with the Phuket Government to create a project to "Enhance Phuket Health Tourism” under the policy framework for the economic and social rehabilitation of the country.
“The aim is to stimulate the economic value of Phuket and the country by providing local residents and tourists with access to standardised health services and providing a full range of services to community enterprises to sell local products and services,” Dr Satit said.
“People in the area will enjoy greater employment and this in turn will distribute income throughout the community. This can serve as a model for health tourism to other regions,” Dr Stait added.
Dr Satit explained that the project had been passed a public hearing and subjected to a feasibility study, and presented to the Cabinet during the mobile meeting held in Phuket on Nov 3.
The Cabinet approved the project to support quality tourism and instructed the Ministry of Public Health to include the project in its annual action plan. The Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) was instructed support the budget for further action, Dr Satit added.
“It will take two years to construct. Phase 2 of the project will include the establishment of the southern branch of Bamrasnaradura Institute to create a Cancer Radiotherapy Centre and Tropical Medicine Centre. This will make high-tech services more accessible to people in the area,” he added.
While officials are assuring the project was properly pushed forward through the legally required public hearing process, after months of silence the news finally broke in June that plans were officially going ahead to build the centre.
While not reported yesterday, it was reported in October that the Treasury Department together with the Public Health Ministry have vowed to splurge as much as B4 billion to develop the centre.