Access to ophthalmologic care in Thailand: a regional analysis

Ophthalmic Epidemiol. 2013 Oct;20(5):267-73. doi: 10.3109/09286586.2013.821498.


Purpose: The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that Southeast Asian countries have ≥ 1 ophthalmologist per 100,000 persons, equally distributed in urban and rural areas. However, regional patterns of eye care have been poorly characterized. This study investigates the distribution of ophthalmologists in Thailand and provides regional estimates of access to ophthalmologists.

Methods: We geocoded the work address of ophthalmologists listed in the 2008 directory of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists of Thailand. We determined the number of ophthalmologists per 100,000 persons at the national, provincial, and district levels using data from the 2000 Thai Population Census, and assessed demographic factors associated with meeting the WHO recommendation of ≥ 1 ophthalmologist per 100,000 persons.

Results: In 2008, Thailand had 1.52 ophthalmologists per 100,000 persons; however, only 20 of 76 provinces (26%) and 134 of 926 districts (14%) met the WHO recommendation of ≥ 1 ophthalmologist per 100,000 persons. District factors associated with not meeting the WHO recommendation included a high proportion of children, a high proportion of elderly, and a high proportion of rural residents.

Conclusion: Thailand meets the WHO's goal for access to ophthalmologic care, but the distribution of ophthalmologists is uneven, with less access to ophthalmologic care in rural areas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Workforce / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ophthalmology* / statistics & numerical data
  • Physicians / supply & distribution*
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Thailand / epidemiology
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data
  • World Health Organization
  • Young Adult