Colostomy Bag from Deproteinized Natural Rubber Latex

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        Colon cancer is among the most commonly found cancers in Thailand. With modern technology, cancers could be detected at an early stage resulting in success in treatment. However, life after treatment is not always promised to be of quality one. Some patients end up living with certain disabilities while others maybe forced to live with artificial rectum or a colostomy.

     Patients living with a colostomy defecate through an opening to the exterior of the abdomen which lacks sphincter muscle like the rectum. Therefore, the excretion is not controlled and could flow out constantly. For this reason, there is a need for a bag or container that would receive the excretion such as a set of equipment consists of a skin pad connected to a detachable waste bag.

The most important issues about such equipment are that it is expensive and hard to find. Moreover, there are some other complications involved such as skin allergy, premature run-down of the equipment resulting in odor hence poor quality of life for the patients.

Based on data collection by PSU in 2013-2015, two foreign brands of colostomy bags were available for sale at 122-188 Baths a piece, though they were only available at major hospitals. Patients or families had to travel almost monthly to buy a replacement. Table 1 shows a growing accumulative cost yearly.

Table 1 Number and cost of colostomy bag set from PSU in 2013-2015







# of items


# of items


# of items


# of items


Skin pad



























        The cost shown above did not include travel and lodging expense that burdened patients and families who would have to go to the hospitals to obtain the equipment. These reasons compelled a research effort to develop a colostomy bag from materials available in Thailand to reduce cost, with a design that is appropriate for skin of Thais. This effort resulted in research titled “Colostomy bag made from Deproteinized Natural Rubber Latex”.


Left: How to use colostomy bag made from Deproteinized Natural Rubber Latex 
Right: Colostomy bag made from Deproteinized Natural Rubber Latex


Even though Thai citizens are now able to equally access healthcare, there are still limitations and obstacles in service delivery such as limited medicine or medical equipment. Patients are still responsible for these costs, including a colostomy bag or artificial rectum which is only partially subsidized by the government (3-10 pieces/month/patient allowed). Some public hospitals are only able to provide 3 sets per month while the patients bear the cost on their own thereafter. Many patients thus are forced to live with unpleasant odors caused by worn-out equipment that they cannot afford to replace, resulting in poor quality of life for themselves and their families. Currently, the country imports 100% of the colostomy bag equipment. Rubber is a feasible material that could be used to produce the bag domestically. The bags would last about 5 years and at a much lower cost. Patent right would be required to make it become more accessible and directly benefiting the patients. Indirect benefits include increase of income for rubber farmers along with their standard of living.

Public hospitals have reported cost of imported colostomy bags on average of 4,664.678 Baths/year for the past 3 years. If the bags were produced locally, the government would only need to subsidize about 2,709,458 Bahts per year on average, reducing spending by 1,955,220 Bahts per year which is about 41.92% of the budget most hospitals used to spend on purchasing the bags.

In sum, the locally-produced colostomy bag would benefit the country in many ways including economy, society, environment, health, and stability. The idea is much more popular and sensible than exporting the rubber as raw material just so the products would be made abroad and send back to be sold at such a high cost in Thailand.

Most of all, the patients are the one reaping the most benefit from this effort. There is a currently a demand of 30,000 bags per hospital on average. There are over 7,000 hospitals around Thailand including major public hospitals, teaching hospitals, district hospitals, provincial hospitals, and other local hospitals. The government would save a lot of money and fulfill enough demand if locally made colostomy bags are made available in just half of the number of hospitals around the country at half the price of the imported products. In the end, the patients and their families would be able to enjoy the better quality of life.

Asst. Prof. Dr. Worrawit Wanichsuwan, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Varaporn Tanrattanakul, Dr. Wiwat Pichayakorn, Dr. Wirach Taweepreda, Dr. Ekwipoo Kalkornsurapranee, Mrs. Somporn Wannawong 
Research unit: medical product innovation from polymers, Prince of Songkla University
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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