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The 3rd National Health Assembly Scaling a new height

 The 3rd National Health Assembly … Scaling a new height

17 December 2010

At long last came the 3rd National Health Assembly (NHA), held during 15 – 17 December 2010 at the United Nations Conference Center in Bangkok. For three consecutive years, the Thai citizens from all walks of life have been involved in developing healthy public policies together.
Our brothers and sisters from 182 constituencies around the Kingdom have collectively proposed health-related agenda items to the National Health Assembly Organizing Committee (NHAOC) for consideration. After the selection of top agenda items, the stakeholders were invited to conduct further studies on respective subjects and to draft the policy proposals which were then circulated for discussion and revision before submitting the final draft to the NHA.   Over 1,000 people from different constituencies subsequently reviewed the final policy proposals of which the resolutions were adopted based on the consensus system and implemented in concrete measures and programmes accordingly.
This year eight agenda items were put on the table, ranging from specific issues such as asbestos-free Thailand to prevention of teenage pregnancy and suitability of positioning Thailand as a medical hub (or medical tourism) to more structural issues that are related to public health or social well-being like the policy to promote self-managing (autonomous?) areas or the national reform to overcome social injustice.
Many people may wonder how such a broad range of issues would have anything to do with health. Indeed, if one looks carefully, each and every system and structure in the society always exerts either positive or negative impacts on the health of the people. Thus in places where the locals are able to manage their own lives [health?], they will also more likely have the capacity to deal with the promotion of health, prevention of diseases and other risk factors without the need to depend on external help from the central government. A good public policy will thus enable every person and sector to work together to develop good health-related policies and to put them into action, which will ultimately contribute to an improvement in the well-being of both the communities and the people.
In short, every issue is health-related.
This year Thailand is undergoing a nation-wide “reform” process, which stresses on equal opportunity for every sector in the society to contribute ideas and participate in a fundamental overhaul of all the systems and structures that are the causes of rampant social malaise, inequalities and injustice. The 3rd National Heath Assembly also joined the current reform movement under the theme of “Collective Action to Overcome Injustice” of which the agenda of injustice and reform was already included in the plenary discussion.
One special honour for our national assembly was to have Prof. Amartya Sen, the 1998 Nobel Laureate in Economics who proposed that equal opportunity and not just economic measures will alleviate the social inequality and boost social justice, to deliver a keynote speech at the NHA followed by another public lecture on 18th December 2010 at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center.
This assembly has thus witnessed an admirable effort to connect a world-class thinker to a national event for the benefit of all of our compatriots.

 Amphon Jindawatthana
Secretary General
National Health Commission