January 28, 2016
Shuichi Ikeda, Chief Representative, JICA Thailand Office, Sopon Mekthon, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand, and Prateep Dhanakijcharoen, Acting Secretary General, National Health Security Office, Thailand, after signing the Record of Discussion.
Councillors, Japan, and Chair, Global Health Working Group for the 2016 G7 Summit; Kae Yanagisawa, JICA Vice President; Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, Minister of Public Health, Thailand; and other government officials of both countries.
On January 27, 2016, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the Thai authorities of the Ministry of Public Health and the National Health Security Office signed the Record of Discussions for the “the Partnership Project for Global Health and Universal Health Coverage.” Over the next four years, the two countries will collaborate in promoting Universal Health Coverage (UHC)* in ASEAN countries as well as other regions of the world, including Asia and Africa.
Based on Japan’s experience operating a public health insurance system for more than 50 years and providing the elderly care, this bilateral technical cooperation project will involve inviting Thai personnel to Japan and dispatching experienced Japanese experts to Thailand. This project symbolizes a new level of partnership in which the two countries cooperate to tackle global health challenges, aiming at creating a world where all people have access to essential health care.
Following its Civil Servant Medical Benefit Scheme and the Social Security Scheme, Thailand launched the Universal Coverage Scheme in 2002, providing nearly the entire population of the country access to health coverage through one of the programs. Thailand earned a global reputation for successfully achieving domestic UHC earlier than other lower-middle-income and middle-income countries and has used its storehouse of knowledge gained through the process to provide support to other developing countries desiring to achieve UHC. However, due to the impact that increasing public health expenditures and the rapidly aging population have on the health systems, health financing sustainability, the quality of health care services and improving health scheme management are of critical importance.
Based on these circumstances, this project will focus on the following areas:
1. Developing sustainable UHC policy recommendations to the Government of Thailand in response to the aging population, and strengthening the capacity of human resources engaged in public health work in Thailand,
2. Assisting other countries in the regions of Asia and Africa in facilitating efforts to achieve UHC, and promoting mutual learning among them, and
3. Globally extending the experiences and lessons learned from UHC implementation.
* Universal Health Coverage (UHC) means that all people have access to essential health services without suffering financial hardship when paying for them. These include health promotion, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. In December 2012, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution making UHC a new global agenda.
The Basic Design for Peace and Health (Global Health Cooperation), formulated by the Government of Japan in September 2015, establishes UHC as one of the policy goals. On December 16, 2015, at the international conference on “Universal Health Coverage in the New Development Era”, the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that the health issue will be discussed as a priority agenda at the Ise-Shima Summit scheduled in May 2016.