Dr. Wachira, the President of the Thai Health Litearcy Promotion Association (THLA) shares insight into the progress of advancing health literacy in Thailand. For those interested in joining THLA, please contact us through the website!
"It has been a long-term effort for many countries to put health literacy issues on the national agenda. However, this is not the case for Thailand. Health literacy was first introduced in a cabinet meeting in 2017. A year later, health literacy was included in the national agenda. Health literacy was announced as one of the goals for the new healthcare reform that was announced in the country's 20-year strategic plan for 2018-2037. We are very proud to see that our efforts have paid off. However, this is just a beginning for a new chapter for health equity in Thailand.
As many of you know, the government system is too rigid to respond to rapid changes. Adapting health literacy concepts into our health care system needs a major change in attitude, knowledge, skills and supportive environments. We should not rely on the government system for successful implementation of health literacy concepts. But the government needs other mechanisms to support, reflect effects of the national and local policies and empower other sectors to contribute to the health literacy movement.
The Thai Health Literacy promotion Association or THLA has been established in 2018 to strengthen the government system. We were inspired by the AHLA, Asian Health Literacy Association. We are an independent organization that involves various people from various sectors, educators, health professionals, nurses, health communicators, media creators, psychiatrists, local health workers, health volunteers, all are connected and share their values and goals. We talk and share ideas, resources, knowledge, tools and help each other , leaving no one behind. As a result, we have been able to fill gaps that the government might be limited to do- that is to respond and meet the needs of the people in the minority groups and those with limited health literacy.
We do this by advocating, bringing and integrating health literacy concepts into all health areas. Our friends and members of the THLA have been regularly informed and updated about what problems are going on in what areas, what strategies and interventions we can use to tackle the problems and what effects those strategies and interventions have had on our target people. We also collect data from the local areas and our discussions and make tailored recommendations to the government.
I can surely say that an independent organization such as the THLA will be a good supportive mechanism to the government for the Health literacy movement as health literacy is part of the the national agenda and there are national policies in place. With help from our friends and members of THLA, Thailand is continuing on improving health equity and producing more valuable results to health of the nation."