Thailand to Help Vietnam Develop Universal Health Care Coverage
The Thai Government Public Relations Department: Thailand and Vietnam have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on health cooperation, under which Thailand will help Vietnam develop its universal health care coverage scheme.
The MOU was signed on 26 January 2012 in Bangkok by Public Health Minister Wittaya Buranasiri and the Minister of Health of Vietnam, Dr. Nguyen Thi Kim Tien.
It came after the two countries agreed to enhance public health cooperation at the first Thailand – Vietnam Joint Cabinet Retreat, held in Danang, Vietnam, on 20 and 21 February 2004. At the meeting, the Thai and Vietnamese Public Health Ministers exchanged information and experience on health management in coping with the outbreak of SARS and avian influenza. They also agreed to foster their cooperation on the control and management of possible infectious diseases through the establishment of surveillance mechanism and early warning system.
According to the MOU, Thailand and Vietnam will cooperate in developing the management of the universal health care coverage scheme and research on the health insurance program. They will exchange knowledge on this health policy and financial support for the scheme. In this regard, hospitals in the two countries will work in pairs to improve knowledge sharing. For instance, Rajavithi Hospital in Bangkok will work with Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi, while the Queen Sirikit National Health Institute of Child Health in Thailand will work with Vietnam’s National Hospital of Pediatrics. Moreover, both countries will develop their capabilities for dealing effectively with any new emergence of SARS or avian influenza.
Vietnam will adopt the universal health care coverage policy in 2014, so it is planning to develop a funding mechanism in line with this policy.
Minister Wittaya stated that Thailand had carried out the universal health care coverage scheme for 10 years now. The program, which started in April 2001, has been successful and is recognized internationally. The main objective is to create universal health insurance coverage for all Thais. He said that the present Thai government has a clear-cut policy to further develop the health insurance system, so that people would receive access to quality, convenient, timely, and equitable healthcare.
Thailand will hold a workshop on universal health care coverage in February 2012. Vietnam, China, and the Philippines will also send representatives to attend this workshop.
Because of Thailand’s successful universal healthcare coverage scheme, the World Health Organization is planning to encourage a similar model worldwide. The scheme is also seen as a form of investment for the country’s economic and social development. Household surveys revealed that this health system was strongly supported by the beneficiaries. The people’s satisfaction with the scheme has increased significantly.