13 billion baht cut to Thailand’s universal healthcare budget

The organisation responsible for Thailand’s universal health care system is facing budget cuts of 13 billion baht as the junta struggles to manage its finances.
On 6 February 2017, the board of the National Health Security Office (NHSO) met to review issues in its projected budget for 2018. The NHSO is the public organization responsible for administering accessible healthcare for all Thai citizens.
According to the NHSO’s deputy Secretary-General Sakchai Kanjanawatana, the Bureau of the Budget presented the projected NHSO budget for 2018 at the meeting. Next year NHSO operations will require approximately 141 billion baht, excluding staff wages.
Currently, the NHSO budget stands at approximately 128 billion baht. This means that the NHSO 2018 budget is some 13 billion baht short of projected expenditures, necessitating budget cuts.
Previous years have already seen similar cuts to Thailand’s bureaucracy and public services. 2017 will see cuts to the tune of some 42 billion baht to the payroll of government officials. The Bureau of the Budget predicts a further 43 billion baht in cuts to government officials’ salaries in 2018.          
The announcement of the NHSO budget crisis emerged in the aftermath of revelations that Thai Treasury reserves have fallen by 85 per cent since the junta’s coup in 2014.
Sakchai fears that if the budget is not managed, there will be negative consequences for the operations of the NHSO and everyday Thais who benefit from its health services.
Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, Minister for Public Health and a member of the NHSO board, agrees that managing the NHSO is all the more urgent since Thailand’s population is aging.
Piyasakol has stated that the next step in resolving the budget crisis is consultation with Thailand’s junta leader Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha.
The junta has pushed various attempts to cut the budget for the universal healthcare policy and remove it from the junta-sponsored constitution.