In the 1960s, the government, with UN and US assistance, extended free medical treatment, expanded health education activities in schools and rural areas, and built many hospitals. In the private sector, two-thirds of health care funding comes from employers and private households. A national social security scheme is under way, but private insurers are few. Owing largely to success in eradicating malaria and other tropical diseases, as well as to better sanitation and medical care, health conditions have steadily improved in Thailand.
Health care facilities are concentrated in the Bangkok metropolitan area, where about 15% of the population is located. In 1989, there were 180 private hospitals and more than 11,000 private clinics. Thai hospitals tend to be small in size. In 1990– 97, there was a nurse to doctor ratio of 5.5. In 2000, 80% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 96% had adequate sanitation. In 1993, about 59% of the population had access to health care services. As of 1999 total health care expenditure was estimated at 6% of GDP.
Common diseases as of 1995 are malaria (115,220), tuberculosis (20,260), and leprosy (5,126). As of 2000, 13% of children under five years of age were considered malnourished. About 7% of births in 1999 were of low birth weight. The 1990– 95 immunization rates for a child under one were as follows: diptheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 93%; polio, 93%; measles, 86%; and tuberculosis, 98%. As of 1999 the rates for DPT and measles were, respectively, 97% and 96%.
As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 16.4 and 7.6 per 1,000 people. In 2000, 72% of married women (ages 15 to 49) used contraception. In the same year, life expectancy was 69 years and infant mortality was 28 per 1,000 live births. Maternal mortality was 44 per 100,000 live births in 1998.
The HIV epidemic in Thailand is among the best documented in the world. Among brothel sex workers, the HIV infection rose from 3.5% in 1989 to 33% in late 1994. There were 22,135 AIDS cases reported in 1995, the most cases reported in all of Asia. As of 1999, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS was estimated at 755,000 and deaths from AIDS that year were estimated at 66,000. HIV prevalence was 2.2 per 100 adults.
Tobacco consumption has risen from 1.9 kg (4.2 lbs) in 1984– 86 to 2.0 kg (4.4 lbs) a year per adult in 1995.