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National Health Act of Thailand and the 17 years of interconnectedness of hard and soft power

NHCO / Talk by Hearts  / National Health Act of Thailand and the 17 years of interconnectedness of hard and soft power

National Health Act of Thailand and the 17 years of  

interconnectedness of hard and soft power

Holistic Health – Holistic Partnership

This year marks the 17 th anniversary of the Thailand National Health Commission Office (NHCO) in its journey of promoting participatory public policies with 16 National Health Assemblies and 96 resolutions covering health and social issues, etc. The NHCO was established under the National Health Act of 2007, which serves as a tool for reforming and providing direction to the health system. It also plays a crucial role in facilitating social participation in the process of developing public policies.

This Act defined a new definition of health, shifting from a focus solely on physical health to a holistic approach encompassing physical, mental, social, and spiritual aspects. With this expanded definition, the scope of NHCO’s work extends to engaging and collaborating with various holistic partners, including government, political entities, CSOs/NGOs, people networks, and academic institutes, to develop participatory public policies. The law provides various public policy tools and processes for people to co-design policies, which may not be seen in other laws in Thailand.

Holistic Health Governance Body

The Act also introduces the holistic health governance body called the National Health Commission (NHC), chaired by the Prime Minister of Thailand. The commission comprises three sectors equally: political, academic, and public. Six ministries sit on the board, and local administrators, for example, the Bangkok Governor is included. The role of the NHC is an advisory body to the cabinet on policies and strategies for health, promoting the participatory healthy public policy process through the National Health System Charter, the National Health Assembly, Health Impact Assessment (HIA), Right to Health, etc.

From holistic approach to the well-being of people in the local areas.

NHCO not only drives policy movements at the national level, but also strengthens local health systems, particularly at the sub-district level, which is the smallest unit of the local government. In 2022, there were 7,255 sub-districts covering more than 50 million people in Thailand. NHCO encourages local leaders, together with the locals, academic institutions, local administrative organizations, and related partners to apply the local health charter, issue-based health assembly, and HIA to formulate policies and address local problems and challenges. This approach recognizes that communities are best equipped to understand their own issues, aligning with the wisdom of Dr. Y.C. James Yen, the Chinese educator.

“Go to the people, Love them, Live with them, Learn from them, Work with them, Help them,  and Start from what they have”. Dr. Y.C. James Yen (1893-1990)


By Dr. Suthep Petchmark, Secretary-General of the National Health Commission, 2024