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Book Review: by Lang Reid
Guide to Healthy Living
in Thailand and Southeast Asia
those of us who are permanent residents in Thailand, the worries about
falling ill, and from what, can be very real. I was reminded of this when I
saw the fourth edition of the Guide to Healthy Living in Thailand and
Southeast Asia, and published by the Thai Red Cross Society in Bangkok (ISBN
9-7897-4830-3) is still available on the shelves at Bookazine.
It is much more than a potted medical textbook for non-doctors and begins
with general living and this opening “Living” section covers such diverse
aspects as the hiring of servants, driving licenses, Thai demographics,
births, marriages and deaths (do you know how much you should pay for a
dowry, for example?), pets, security and even a page of hints on how to
successfully retire after a busy and full career. In addition to the
detailed paragraphs there are “breakout” boxes on each page with more
condensed succinct hints.
The next large section covers general health issues, including blood
transfusions, highlighting the fact that the Rhesus Negative blood is rare
in Thai nationals (less than 0.3 percent) while this blood type is present
in 15 percent of expats. Even “herbal” dietary control is mentioned, with
the chilling evidence that many of the so-called “herbal” or “natural”
appetite suppressants are in fact banned western pharmaceuticals. Caveat
emptor! There is also a list of drugs and their effects during pregnancy.
This is a most complete book.
The next section deals with specific medical problems from HIV infection, to
snakebite and sea envenomation, rat bite, rabies and the plague. The scope
of this section is prodigious. SCUBA diving, rock climbing, altitude
sickness, malaria, diarrhea, sexually transmitted diseases, prickly heat and
poisonous mushrooms. There appears to be no disease worth having that is not
included in this very large section.
At the back of the book, there is a section showing medical care facilities
in Thailand, by town/city but this section does need updating, as Thailand’s
hospitals are more than abreast of world technology. This section carries on
to grade the medical facilities in other SE Asian countries. You are advised
not to fall ill in Kazakhstan or Kyrgyztan, and after perusing the hospital
facilities offered, I would refuse all offers of going there!
The scope of this book is excellent, and the short breakouts in the margins
are full of sensible advice. It is rare to find such a pertinent and helpful
publication and all those who have donated their skills, knowledge and
expertise to the Thai Red Cross are to be congratulated.
The review copy came from Bookazine, Royal Garden Plaza. It costs 450 baht
and represents a very good value for money publication and an excellent
addition to the bookshelves of both the new expat and the long stay
resident. If I have a criticism it is the lack of an Index. There is
certainly a detailed list of contents at the front of the book, but this is
not an alphabetic index. Perhaps for the 5th edition, Red Cross? However, I
believe that all of us can benefit from this book.
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