On Tuesday, the Thai army admitted one of its doctors had cheated other Thai soldiers stationed in South Sudan out of 170,000 baht by giving them fake shots instead of flu vaccines, which he later sold for private gain.
The offence took place last year when the field doctor, a lieutenant whose name was not revealed, and 247 Thai soldiers of the Thai Horizontal Military Engineering Company, were stationed in the African country on a United Nations-led peacekeeping mission.
It came to light after UN officials noticed the vaccine looked suspicious, Lt Gen Chaowalit Sangkharit, spokesman of the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters, told a press briefing.
A probe concluded that the doctor had advised his friends to take the flu shots, saying that the vaccine would help prevent them from getting the COVID-19 disease.
Some of the shots administered were reportedly tetanus shots. He then gave them mineral supplements, which were later found to contain saline.
The doctor was sent back to Thailand in March last year. “His behaviour was fraudulent and a serious breach of discipline,” Lt Gen Sangkharit said.
During the probe in Thailand, the officer did not report for duty and could not be reached.
The army cashiered him in April and the Bangkok Military court issued a warrant for his arrest.
The army also sent his case to the Medical Council of Thailand, seeking the withdrawal of his licence to practice medicine, Lt Gen Sangkharit said.
The council will give him another chance to explain himself after he failed to show up after the first summons.
If he fails to attend and defend himself again, his licence will be revoked, he said.
“What happened is an offence committed by an individual, who broke the law and the army’s disciplinary regulations.
“He has tarnished the reputation of the army and the country. The army has taken prompt action to ensure justice for all the affected people,” he said.
He added the incident did not affect the Thai mission in South Sudan.
The doctor was a replacement and had not been subjected to a normal screening process because the doctor he replaced had to return to Thailand, Lt Gen Sangkharit added.