Infighting between the public health ministry and the BMA is slowing Thailand’s Covid response

Disagreements and infighting between the Ministry of Public Health and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has intensified in recent days as both try to charter a course out of the current Covid crisis, sources told Thai Enquirer on Wednesday.

The third wave of the pandemic continues unchecked in Thailand as the total number of people infected since April 1 approaches 100,000.

Bangkok continues to be worst hit area in the country with high daily infection rates that have not gone down despite lockdown measures imposed by the local and national government.

Now, sources within the public health ministry and inside parliament tell Thai Enquirer that disagreements between the two largest organizations responsible for managing the situation in Bangkok are threatening the capital’s recovery.

“The governor’s office have basically told the MoPH that Bangkok is their jurisdiction and to butt out,” said a senior advisor to the Ministry of Public Health. “They have their own health advisors and are charting their own path – a path which is sometimes at odds with the ministry’s guideline.”

One such example is the decision by the governor to only focus vaccinations initially on outbreak sites. According to the source within the MOPH, the rate of vaccination inside the capital is actually slower than other outbreak sites like Samut Sakhon and Rayong because of the BMA’s mismanagement.

“I think the governor and his team think that this is a public relations opportunity and are putting their name on every billboard at vaccination sites or proudly proclaiming their covid success,” said the source. “It is tone deaf.”

A giant banner in the Klong Toey slums stating that this vaccination center is part of the policy of Governor Asawin Kwanmuang and General Prayut Chan-ocha

Another source within the Democrat Party has complained that the infighting between the two government organs was threatening the recovery of the capital and the country.

“We are facing the worst part of the crisis right now and Bangkok is at the epicenter,” said the MP from Bangkok. “If the two most relevant government agencies can’t even see eye-to-eye and work together then what hope does the country have?”

The MP added that their friend in the private hospital sector have received conflicting advice from the BMA and the Ministry of Public Health adding to an already confusing situation as the government aims to inoculate 50 per cent of Bangkok residents by July.

“Right now speed is of the essence but this fight for who gets to take credit is actually costing us time and lives.”

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