Suf­fi­ciency econ­omy ‘can sus­tain health se­cu­rity’

The Nation - - THAILAND -

A FOR­MER pub­lic health min­is­ter has rec­om­mended the suf­fi­ciency econ­omy phi­los­o­phy and friend ther­apy as the means to sus­tain the coun­try’s health se­cu­rity.

“We need these so­lu­tions to deal with var­i­ous chal­lenges,” Mongkol na Songkhla, a for­mer pub­lic health min­is­ter, said re­cently.

Speak­ing in front of more than 500 health­care rep­re­sen­ta­tives and in­ter­ested peo­ple at a fo­rum, he noted the coun­try’s health­care sys­tems needed to ad­dress the grow­ing el­derly pop­u­la­tion and du­bi­ous poli­cies im­ple­mented by per­sons with a con­flict of in­ter­est.

The Friend Ther­apy Foun­da­tion (the Dr Sa-nguan Nit­ta­yaram­phong Fund) or­gan­ised the fo­rum. Sa-nguan, who passed away in 2008, was the first sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Na­tional Health Se­cu­rity Of­fice (NHSO). The coun­try’s uni­ver­sal health­care scheme, which is man­aged by the NHSO, has won wide­spread praise and even in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion.

At present, the scheme of­fers al­most all types of med­i­cal ser­vice to about 48 mil­lion Thais for free, and as­sures peo­ple that ill­ness will not plunge them into med­i­cal bank­ruptcy. “It’s a proof that the gov­ern­ment can spend tax­pay­ers’ money on cre­at­ing peo­ple’s health se­cu­rity,” Mongkol said.

The uni­ver­sal health­care scheme, how­ever, faces a bud­get chal­lenge as its ex­penses have been grow­ing ev­ery year.

The ris­ing cost is the re­sult of sev­eral fac­tors, in­clud­ing the grow­ing num­ber of el­derly peo­ple in Thai­land and the in­creas­ing use of ad­vanced med­i­cal tech­nol­ogy that is use­ful – and ex­pen­sive. Mongkol also sus­pects that some pow­er­ful in­ter­est groups could be play­ing a role by in­flu­enc­ing poli­cies that threaten health se­cu­rity of peo­ple.

The coun­try should be able to deal with com­ing chal­lenges if it em­braced the Suf­fi­ciency Econ­omy Phi­los­o­phy in run­ning the uni­ver­sal health­care scheme.

“Use ap­pro­pri­ate tech­nol­ogy in boost­ing pri­mary health­care,” he rec­om­mended.

He said that the coun­try should also pro­mote the “friend ther­apy con­cept” in which friends help friends and pa­tients help other pa­tients. “Peo­ple with health prob­lems want un­der­stand­ing and ad­vice from peo­ple with the same ex­pe­ri­ences,” Mongkol said.

“As they share their ex­pe­ri­ences and in­for­ma­tion, they can help each other”.

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