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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

Guide to Healthy Living in Thailand and Southeast Asia

For 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.