By Pongphon Sarnsamak
The proposed international medical school must be opened to enhance the knowledge and competence of local students so they can compete with the international community, a medical school official said.
"Thai doctors have been accepted and recognised only in the local community. They have not been accepted by the region or the international community," said Dr Avudh Srisukri, secretary-general of the Consortium of Thai Medical Schools.
An international medical school would improve the knowledge of medical personnel and also the country's treatment standards.
He said universities could not avoid international medical schools if they want to step into the international community.
He said the opening of an international medical school depended on the readiness of each university but it should not affect the learning in regular medical schools.
"Thailand has opened many international schools in different disciplines but there was no movement on opening an international medical school for several years because we were focusing only on developing competency within the country," Avudh said.
The idea of opening an international medical school has been opposed by several civic groups as they concerned the curriculum would affect the country's capacity to produce medical personnel.
Avudh, however, assured that it would have no impact on medical personnel.
He said civic groups were looking at it the wrong way.
They were focusing on only the negative impact but did not look at the positive impact on the country from having an international curriculum.
Medical professors could exchange their knowledge with foreign colleagues, which will eventually flow into the regular curriculum.
"It is meaningless if medical schools open only-English programmes because professors would just teach students in the English language. This is not an international medical school," he said.
An international medical school is an institution which exchanges and transfers knowledge among other international medical schools from several parts of the world.
So far, Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Medicine and Mahidol University's Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital are ready to open the international medical school.
Meanwhile the Medical Council of Thailand will review Srinakharinwirot University's proposal to offer an English medical programme, which has been opposed by the National Health Commission.
Medical Council chairman Dr Somsak Lohlekha said the council will today call the dean of Srinakharinwirot University's Faculty of Medicine regarding its proposal, in particular the condition which requires the Faculty to teach only Thai citizens and and that they repay the scholarship.
Dr Adisorn Phattharadool, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University, said the faculty nowadays adopts 300 medical students per year to study in the regular programme.
If the faculty opens the international medical school it could adopt only 30 students a year.
He added that this portion will not affect the regular medical programme.
At present, he said all medical schools nationwide take in 2,800 medical students a year.
This will increase to 3,000 per year in the next few years. This number would be enough to provide medical treatment to Thais across country.
He said the purpose of opening an international programme is not to make money from rich students but to improve their competence and make them competitive in the international community.
This article was first published in The Nation/Asia News Network.