ThaiHealth funding squeeze 'hurting vulnerable people'

PHOTO: The Nation/ANN

SCORES of vulnerable people are suffering as a result of a host of public projects being suspended due to the strict financial measures placed on the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth) funding, with more than 500 large-scale projects halted, non-governmental organisations said yesterday.

Since the Monitoring and Auditing Committee on Fiscal Expenditure applied the restrictions in October, the budgets of more than 2,000 projects have been frozen, the Thai Health Movement revealed. Of those, 515 are large-scale projects that cost more than Bt5 million (S$198,000) to implement.

"We don't have enough money to run our project Elderly School and disappointingly have had to stop the project," said Bunchop Chomphu, the coordinator of the Network for Pleasant Local Community, at a Thai Health Movement meeting.

"This has caused many seniors who participated in projects to go back to their lonely lives and has left them more prone to mental and physical illnesses."

Bunchop said the Elderly School project had aimed to improve the mental wellbeing of seniors, with more than 250 centres for the elderly set up across the country since 2013 with the financial support from ThaiHealth.

Each school received Bt2 million in financial support from ThaiHealth annually.

The Family Network Foundation has also had its budget frozen, resulting in it putting on hold projects for the past four months.

"We had to lay off all unnecessary workers to reduce the operation cost and the remaining five members of the foundation have to be paid the minimum salary," said member Thanakorn Komkrit.

"This has not only affected a ThaiHealth-supported project but our ability to work on other aspects of social work."