Bangkok – 28 November: The EU-ASEAN Business Council, the primary business body for European businesses in ASEAN, partnered with Haleon, a global leader in consumer health, and held a workshop with medical and healthcare industry experts focused on the issue of health inclusivity. The event – ‘Building a Health Inclusive Thailand’ underscored the importance of increasing healthcare opportunities for individuals to experience better everyday health, especially those who are marginalised within the society.
In the first global Health Inclusivity Index (HII) commissioned by Haleon and published by Economist Impact in October 2022, Thailand proved to be one of the best-performing middle-income countries in ensuring that its citizens have access to accessible, and affordable healthcare services. In fact, given its efforts in safeguarding health in society for its citizens, the Land of Smiles had an overall country score of 83.06, making it the top-scoring country for the key metric of Health in Society, according to the world’s first study which benchmarks 40 countries on inclusive healthcare systems, policies and practices.
Despite notable commitments in providing healthcare coverage and increasing health literacy for its citizens, further opportunities remain to advance health inclusivity in Thailand. The Index illuminates the importance of implementing outreach programmes for the needs of the most vulnerable groups within the Thai communities. Public-private partnerships can be one such avenue to bridge the existing healthcare gap – as shown by the recent successful launch of Haleon’s “Smiles Can’t Wait” campaign which aims to not only make dentures more accessible but also raise awareness around both the emotional and physical impact of missing teeth. Through the partnerships with Mahidol University Dental Hospital, The Dental Department of Phramongkutklao Hospital, The Dental Hospital at Chulalongkorn University, and the Thai Industrial Pharmacist Association, Haleon in Thailand is driving a concerted effort to raise the issue of health access as well as provide access to dentures free of charge to 1,000 Thai older adults.
Jean-Francois Couve, General Manager, Thailand, Haleon said: “At Haleon, we believe that raising awareness of the key barriers and creating a global benchmark are vital first steps in addressing health inequity. Key findings from the inaugural Health Inclusivity Index point at the clear need for a holistic approach to health inclusivity beyond a nation’s formal healthcare system. We are encouraged by the Index’ findings of health being both a societal and policy priority in Thailand, and with the breadth of insights provided by the Index, we hope to convene key opinion leaders, policymakers and healthcare professionals to create a dialogue and inspire action on health inclusivity. This work is part of Haleon’s commitment to empower millions of people a year to be more included in opportunities for better everyday health, empowering 50 million a year by 2025.”
Speaking further about the need for health inclusivity, Chris Humphrey, Executive Director of the EU-ABC said: “Health inclusivity is key to delivering affordable and accessible healthcare services, and in raising the quality of life for Thai citizens from all walks of life. As the Thailand case study has shown, “hard to reach” communities do not mean “impossible to reach”. Through a collaborative approach between public and private stakeholders, it is possible to identify and include vulnerable populations in healthcare policies, ensuring that they can gain affordable and quality access to health services that care for their true needs. With only three years left to achieve the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community vision of building a society “which is inclusive and harmonious where the well-being, livelihood, and welfare of the peoples are enhanced”, health inclusivity is a tool that can steer ASEAN closer towards achieving this goal by 2025.”
In addition to the learnings gathered from the many successes Thailand has had in health since the healthcare reform in 2002, panellists shared their thoughts on the opportunities for public and private partnerships to leverage existing outreach programmes and initiatives to continue caring for the needs of its populace as well as build the foundation for a patient-centric care. The 2022 Health Inclusivity Index can be accessed here.