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The National Health Act after Three Years

The National Health Act after Three Years  

1 January 2010

It’s unbelievable how time flies! The National Health Commission Office (NHCO) is now 3 years-old  since the National Health Act  became effective  on the 20th of March, 2007.

Over its three years, progress was generally torpid, showing nothing remarkable and drawing nothing much in the way of comment, possibly because the work of the NHA consisted of a social movement and policy advocacy whose output would be only gradual... As an innovative program, it lacked a clearly formatted structure that could be understood in advance of its implementation. Accordingly, we are learning from it as we work at it, adjusting and developing it throughout the   entire process. Fortunately, numerous long-time and brand-new friends have been networking together with us with a genuine outgoing concern and a spirit of public service.
 
During our three years of work, we issued our “Statute on the National Health System,”  comprising 12 sections that subdivide into 111  provisions;  together,  these form an integral part of the National Health Act. Government agencies are now required to abide by the Statute., as the Cabinet and members of both the House of Representative  and of the Senate  have approved it, respectively. All sectors of the society can now apply it as a framework to formulate policies and strategies for action on health.

The next crucial mission of the National Health Commission and NHCO will attempt to support stakeholders in their efforts to apply the Statute as a device that will substantially enhance their health and well-being. Simply stated, these efforts will seek to translate the Statute into action for the benefit of the people on health matters.

Yet another mission that is gradually advancing is the development of a process that will lead to a healthy public policy that emphasizes participation in a “Health Assembly.”  This movement is particularly evident in the creation of a “National Health Assembly,”  which is organized in a systematic manner that allows everyone to take part. This process has reached a consensus to support 25 - issue policy recommendations. Many issues have been driven into action in various channels. This activity combines to form the most tangible exercise for applying participatory democracy in Thailand, which needs to carry on in perpetuity..

Apart from NHA, we facilitate organizing the process of a Health Assembly at an area base and an issue base across the country. Despite the lack of efficiency in the process,, the National Health Commission has set a policy and clear target for its future development. Within the next three years, it is expected that the area -based and issue -based Health Assembly  will prove to be more effective and vibrant than at any time previous. .

Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is moving ahead in terms of knowledge generation, pilot -area implementation and organization of international academic conference. . Most importantly, the National Health Commission issued Thailand's Rules and Procedures for the Health Impact Assessment of Public Policies for all sectors of  society to apply. The Government has also applied it as a part of its implementation  of Article 67 of the 2007 Constitution.

Promoting public awareness on responsibilities and rights to health  as stipulated in the Act is showing steady but slow movement. A ministerial regulation has been drafted which would support the right to refuse end-of-life care or to terminate the suffering of the seriously ill through the legalisationm of a Living Will, to which the Cabinet of Ministers has now given its approval. At the same time,   NHCO has linked this concept to the  palliative care administered by hospitals to patients in their final stages of life. We do so through by offering our support and cooperation to the many hospitals which are developing in these areas, in order that they may improve their systems of rendering high-quality service. Likewise, we promote citizens’ awareness in the exercise of their legal rights as granted by the Act.   

NHCO also facilitates and drives various healthy public policies in Thailand, including the policy on national health workforce via the committee on national health workforce and the Northeastern Regional  Health Workforce-Model Planning Process, the policy on local wisdom for health, the policy on reduction of chemical use in agriculture, the policy on reduction of the impact on health  from free -trade agreements, the policy on access to medicine, the policy on inequity reduction in health security, the policy on universal coverage for Thais who have no standing the policy on prevention and control of emerging diseases and various others.
 
The aforementioned activities constitute a part of the work that has engaged the National Health Commission   and NHCO during the past 3 years. A number of their works continue to require a driving force and upward scaling, while numerous others need to be started anew. All of these efforts, activities and objectives bolster the worthiness of the hard work put into the National Health Act by our friends and associates who have networked together with us to make the Act an effective tool for the shared benefit of society. 
 

 

Amphon Jindawatthana

Secretary General

National Health Commission

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