Medical Supplies Scandal

Article excerpt

When the economic crisis began and a government budget cut was announced, officials claimed that the social sector budget would not be affected. But the government's financial strategies adopted for the 1998 fiscal year impacted on the social sector, and in particular led to a reduction in health-care services. When the government and the IMF agreed to relax government spending and provided additional funds for social sector activities, rural health services were among the beneficiaries. In August, a total of 1,400 million baht was channelled to the Ministry of Public Health, with 840 million baht for the Rural Health Division for medicine and supplies, and 560 million baht for hospital expenses. The budget year ended in September and the Ministry had two months to disburse the budget.

The Rural Doctor Society (RDS), a civic group whose members are rural health personnel working in all provinces of the country, claimed that the extra funds were being used for corrupt purposes. Many rural doctors and pharmacists complained that they were forced by politicians and certain health officials to buy medical supplies from specific firms at highly inflated prices. …