Conventional and Thai Traditional Medicine: Visiting Uthong Hospital

1. Uthong Hospital

At Uthong Hospital—a 150-bed community facility in Amphur-Uthong, Supanburi Province, Thailand—I had the opportunity to learn how the staff integrate both conventional medicine and Thai traditional therapies. Located about two hours away from Bangkok, the field trip was part of the busy week-long events at the Second Global Forum on Human Resources for Health.

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Photo 1
The hospital integrates conventional medicine with Thai traditional medicine, meditation, massage, and nutritional therapy.

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We donned sterile garb to tour the hospital’s traditional medicine manufacturing facility.

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Thai traditional practitioners and conventional doctors prescribe 56 herbal medicine formulas for conditions ranging from common cold and stomachache to chronic illnesses such as hypertension and even cancer.

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We also visited Ban-Guaruk Garden where medicinal herbs are grown for the hospital’s facility.

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Dr. Apisak Leaungwejchakarn, a general surgeon and the hospital’s administrator, explained that at Uthong conventional and traditional practitioners work closely together and refer patients from one to the other as appropriate.

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The hospital also relies on Uncle Boonsong Srisamran (left), the area’s foremost Thai traditional practitioner who plays a major role in advising hospital staff as well as in teaching younger generations about herbal medicine.

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One of the hospital’s patients described her experience with the program. Diagnosed with liver cancer, she did not want to endure chemotherapy and had resigned herself to fate. However, she has shown marked improvement through alternative and holistic treatment.

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In the idyllic setting of Ban-Guaruk Garden it is easy to sense the healing properties of plants and relaxation.

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Photos by David Nelson