News Release from the World Health Organization (WHO)
Text adapted from WHO
Thailand has become one of the first countries in the world to review how its health system has so far responded to COVID-19. This process, known as a joint Intra-Action Review (IAR), had two goals – to identify what went well during the first 6 months of the pandemic in Thailand, and to recommend how the Ministry of Public Health could improve its response to future COVID-19 outbreaks.
The IAR focuses on nine “pillars” of the national response. These are:
- Country-level coordination, planning and monitoring
- Risk communication and community engagement
- Surveillance, case investigation, and contact tracing
- Points of entry/migrant health
- National laboratory system
- Infection prevention and control
- Case management and knowledge sharing in the latest innovation and research
- Operational support and logistics in supply chain and workforce management
- Essential (non-COVID-19) services
The IAR was conducted in July, and was a collaboration between the Ministry of Public Health and the WHO to identify key strengths and vulnerabilities of Thailand’s COVID-19 response. Between July 20-24, 16 reviewers including experts from WHO and other UN agencies, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and academia, interviewed 96 policy makers, technical experts and responders from Thailand to gather information and insight.
The IAR highlighted key factors that contributed to successful management of the pandemic in Thailand. These included strong leadership in responding to scientific evidence, a well-resourced and inclusive medical and public health system, previous experience with major infectious disease outbreaks, and early adoption of a ‘whole of society’ approach with active engagement of academic and the private sectors.
The IAR also made key recommendations to strengthen Thailand’s response to COVID-19. These included a new digital data system to make information readily available, a national IPC programme to support transformative improvements in IPC capacities, an enhanced surveillance system, and establishing a national quarantine authority.
Going forward, the Thailand Ministry of Public Health and WHO Thailand will work together with partners to implement the key recommendations from the IAR.
The IAR is important not only for Thailand, but for other countries in the Southeast Asia Region and beyond in supporting their efforts to control the pandemic.