August 23, 2022
BANGKOK – Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt on Monday vowed to upgrade city clinics to care for an elderly population that has reached 1.2 million and is growing fast.
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Chadchart vows to upgrade clinics as Bangkok becomes ‘elderly city’
Chadchart was speaking at the “Health & Wealth Forum: Creating Happiness Before You Age, Live Well with Good Health and Wealth” organised by Nation Group at Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel.
Chadchart said Bangkok was now officially home to a “grey society” with seniors accounting for over 20 per cent of the 5.5 million registered residents.
He said the high proportion of seniors in districts such as Samphanthawong, Phra Nakhon and Pom Prab Sattru Phai was a cause for concern.
Even more worrying was the trend of children leaving their aged parents or grandparents alone in Bangkok as they sought better lives in other cities or countries, he added.
“In the future, Bangkok could turn into a city of the elderly,” Chadchart said, expressing concern over the shrinking proportion of working-age taxpayers as Bangkok’s elderly population expanded.
“The question is how to get capable new-generation people to stay in the capital now that they have the option to leave and live abroad. These capable people will drive society and become the key tax base generating funds to take care of the elderly,” he said.
The governor said 69 community clinics run by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) in the capital needed to be improved to provide better elderly care and relieve pressure on city hospitals.
Chadchart said BMA community clinics were like capillaries connecting to the main veins – 11 major hospitals – of Bangkok’s public health system. But weakness in these capillaries meant elderly patients were crowding major hospitals.
“So, we are witnessing scenes of elderly people queuing at Chulalongkorn Hospital from 4am when community clinics and hospitals, the capillaries, should be playing a better role in caring for them.”
The governor said community clinics and hospitals also had a poor reputation.
“No one believes in services at community clinics, so patients are concentrated in large hospitals run by the government and university medical schools.
“The BMA’s policy is to make the capillaries stronger,” he added
Chadchart said the BMA learned its lesson after its Klong Toey clinic was swamped by Covid-19 patients as it had only 48 staff to take care of about 100,000 residents.
He also noted that the BMA’s Bang Khun Thian Hospital specialises in elderly care but said its location in the southern suburbs made it inaccessible for many seniors.
“The BMA is now in the process of developing transport to shuttle the elderly to and from the hospital,” Chadchart said, adding that elderly care was among his 216 election campaign policies.
The governor’s policies for the elderly include:
– ‘Active ageing’ clubs to maintain mental and physical health
– Promoting knowledge and education
– Establishing new day centres
– Upgrading sport and community centres to meet elderly needs
– Providing telemedicine
– Easier access to canal and river piers
– Better access to transport hubs
– Elevators at all Blue Line stations
“The challenge is to make Bangkok a better place to live, especially for the elderly, via policies covering nine aspects including the environment, transport, safety, health, green areas and economy,” Chadchart concluded.