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Volume 14, Issue 04

1 - 15 November 2014

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No more elephantiasis! N ew medical rules to obtain a Thai driving license have removed from the list of disqualifying diseases leprosy and elephantiasis as both of these can be both recognized and cured. Elephantiasis occurs when a person’s body, or parts of it, swells to enormous proportions. The most famous sufferer of that disease was the 19th century British national Joseph Merrick popularly known as “the elephant man”. However, the Department of Land Transport has decided to add four additional medical conditions to the disqualifying list which currently includes mental instability, significant visual or hearing defects, alcohol and drug dependency or abuse. Now to be included are brain surgery, diabetes requiring insulin injections, heart surgery and cardiac vein expansion or “stents”. Land Transport director-general Asdsathai Rattanadilok Na Phuket said the plan was to keep unsuitable drivers off the roads and to reduce traffic accidents on the highways. Deputy director-general Wattana Patarachon added that The Medical Council of Thailand endorsed the proposals. No concrete date was given for the introduction of the new policy although a source told Pattaya Today the implementation would be in early 2015 by way of a Ministry of Transport announcement. The time delay is to allow sufficient training of doctors throughout the country. Everyone applying for a new or replacement driving license will see a Thai doctor, as at present, but the redesigned form will cover all the diseases in the updated list. Doctors and general practitioners will be expected to make a medical examination before issuing the

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clearance letter even though, at present, this is not always done. A Pattaya-based doctor said it was unrealistic to expect a full medical examination for the current fee of around 200 baht. “I imagine too,” he continued, “that some wouldbe drivers might avoid going to their own doctor and choose one who doesn’t know their medical history.” But the Medical Council of Thailand is said to be looking into other problems such as contagious diseases and health problems likely to be faced by the elderly, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Wattana Patarachon explained that medical certificates in the near future will need to be self-certified by the applicant that they are telling the truth. False information, he added, will result in disqualification or even prosecution. Seminars with doctors nationwide have

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already begun and manuals for the issuing of medical certificates are being prepared. The latest move comes after the introduction last June of a compulsory written test for all applicants for a new Thai driving license. Other requirements are a simple eye-chart test for color blindness and a depth perception exercise. Many applicants must also pass a practical driving test, although some local offices don’t insist on this if the foreigner has a valid international license. Necessary documents include copy of passport and current visa and a certificate of residence from the Immigration Bureau. The first license is for one year but the renewal is for five years, subject to the tests and the holding of a non-immigrant visa. Lifetime licenses are no longer available.

Vol 14 issue 04 1 15 november 2014  
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