What Thailand Imparts To The World In Terms Of Universal Healthcare

Thailand demonstrates that a well studied system and a committed leadership can boost health affordably. During the decade, the plan minimized infant mortality, worker sick days and in turn, lifted families’ burdens financially.

Thailand’s Universal Coverage Scheme of 2001

For most countries around the world, they are moving towards a universal healthcare. However, for many, it just remains a goal. Fortunately, Thailand’s leaders have successfully implemented a healthcare reform without it costing too greatly.

About 25 percent of Thais in 2000 were uninsured. Many people had policies but with incomplete protection. The country was in a crisis healthcare-wise. About seventeen thousand children aged 5 below died, and two thirds were from uncomplicated preventable infectious diseases. Twenty percent of the poorest homes fell to poverty due to own healthcare spending.

Then in 2001, the country launched their Universal Coverage Scheme (UCS). It was described as an ambitious healthcare reform done by a developing country.

The UCS spread to Thai provinces on the next year. It provided inpatient, outpatient and emergency care.

By 2011, the scheme already covered 98% or 48 million of the Thai population.

Thailand’s road to UCS

In January 2002, the UCS was already in every province. However, the comprehensive care took decades to get developed. Since the 70s, there was already free healthcare for poor families. The country had various Health Insurance (ประกันภัยสุขภาพ) schemes leaving a lot of people without coverage. The development of clinics, hospitals and staff to support this universal coverage took several years.

The challenge for any universal healthcare

Dr Sara Bennett who is an associate professor working at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health indicated that the challenging part for any universal healthcare especially in most developing countries is quality. While most healthcare funded by the government is free, it is inaccessible geographically. Aside from this, poorly trained staff are administering, and there are limited facilities.

Other countries’ move to universal healthcare

Other low income and middle income countries are also moving towards a universal healthcare. Bennett said that they are offering coverage to a lot of people. Numerous countries, according to her, are making notable steps towards this including those very poor countries.

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