Thailand stands ready to cooperate with all countries and international organizations to promote and achieve universal health coverage systems.
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha talked about Thailand’s universal health coverage policy at a side event during the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
The Prime Minister cited health and human security as top priorities for the Thai government, which has strived to establish a universal health coverage system to provide access to necessary, affordable, and quality healthcare services for all. The Government views access to healthcare as one of the basic human rights and social justice.
He explained that Thailand successfully achieved a universal health coverage system in 2002. Successive governments have shown unwavering commitments since 1970 to increase investment in the basic health infrastructure at all levels, resulting in the expansion of health services. Health personnel, ranging from doctors, dentists, pharmacists, and nurses, have been dispatched to all regions throughout Thailand.
Thais now have access to more comprehensive healthcare services and extended coverage, which includes health promotion and disease prevention. The increased access to health services has reduced disparities between the urban and rural areas. It has also resulted in the reduction of maternal and child mortality rates. The infant mortality rate decreased from 72 per 1,000 live births in 1970 to only 11 per 1,000 live births in 2014.
In addition to improving people’s health and well-being, the universal health coverage system has also reduced poverty. Over the past 12 years, the reduction of health costs as a result of this system has prevented more than 100,000 families from falling below the poverty level.
The Prime Minister said that the Thai government seeks to improve the quality of health services and the well-being of the people by paving the way for the universal health coverage system for all in a non-discriminatory manner. Thailand’s health policies focus on disease prevention and the promotion of public-private cooperation in developing medical and health services.
The Government also provides legal and social protection to migrant workers. Recently, it introduced the "One Stop Service” policy to facilitate the registration of illegal migrant workers and their dependents. Between June and October 2014, the Thai authorities registered over 1.6 million migrant workers. These measures have helped prevent human rights violation, as well as human trafficking. They also ensure that these migrants have access to healthcare services.
The Prime Minister added that Thailand had joined other ASEAN partners, China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea in setting up an ASEAN Plus Three Universal Health Coverage Network. Thailand will serve as the learning center for health management and universal health coverage in this region.