COVID-19

Response and International
Development Cooperation

Overview

Since early 2020, the world has been grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the then-unknown virus with no medications and clearly prescribed therapies. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared this novel coronavirus disease a global pandemic, highlighting the increased,more widespread and more severe nature of the situation.

The global outbreak of this pandemic prompted countries and territories around the world to resort to lockdown measures in varying degrees to halt its spread.Since 2020, Thailand’s timely and decisive response won praise from international organizations and experts around the globe. The country’s success is attributed to its highly effective and inclusive public health system that made healthcare accessible to everyone.

After successfully in keeping COVID-19 under control in September 2020, Thailand reached out to its neighbors which were still struggling with the invisible enemy.

Thailand has been helping its neighboring countries reinforce their healthcare systems. Their enhanced capabilities to respond to the pandemic will ensure effective and sustainable solutions in the long run as we realize that “nobody is safe until everyone is safe”

TICA’s development cooperation in public health is not new or implemented on an ad hoc basis. Throughout TICA’s history, public health has been one important focus of its development cooperation with Thailand’s neighbors through the Project on Building Awareness and Preparedness for Communicable Diseases and Emerging Diseases along the Thailand – Cambodia – Myanmar – Lao PDR Borders.

The objective of the project is to raise awareness and increase readiness in tackling contagious diseases along the Thai borders with those countries
The target groups are all population along the borders The project seeks to match Thai provinces along the borders with provinces in Cambodia,
Lao PDR and Myanmar and capitalizes on the expertise of Thailand’s provincial public health offices.

Development Cooperation between Thailand and CLM Countries on Public Health

Chiang Rai
Bokeo
Nong Khai
Vientiane
Nakhon Panom
Khamouane
Mukdahan
Savannakhet
Ubon Ratchathani
Champasak
Ubon Ratchathani
Preah Vihear
Surin
Oddar Meanchey
Sakaeo
Banteay Meanchey
Trat
Koh Kong
Ranong
Kawthoung
Kanchanaburi
Dawei
Tak
Myawaddy
Chiang Rai
Tachilek
Chiang Rai
Bokeo
Nong Khai
Vientiane
Nakhon Panom
Khamouane
Mukdahan
Savannakhet
Ubon Ratchathani
Champasak
Ubon Ratchathani
Preah Vihear
Sakaeo
Banteay Meanchey
Surin
Oddar Meanchey
Trat
Koh Kong
Ranong
Kawthoung
Kanchanaburi
Dawei
Tak
Myawaddy
Chiang Rai
Tachilek

Thai and CLM Countries Border Provinces

Thailand-Lao PDR

12

Provinces

Thailand-Cambodia

7

Provinces

Thailand-Myanmar

10

Provinces

Public Health Challenges

  1. Infectious Diseases, Emerging and Re-emerging Diseases.
  2. Maternal and Child Health and Family Planning.
  3. Illegal imports and exports of poor standard health products.
  4. Inadequate access of public health services for minorities groups.
  5. Labour migration and cross-border products movement.
  6. Disease information management system and disease tracking system.
  7. Cost of border public health services.
Project Background

Labor migration to Thailand leads to the increase of health care services needs for migrant populations along border provinces.

Hence, border Thai Public Health authorities have to collaborate closely
with the neighboring countries to prevent, mitigate and control
for Communicable Diseases and Emerging Diseases.

Project Objectives

1. To build awareness and prepare for Communicable Diseases and Emerging Diseases along the
Thailand-CLM Border

2. To set up a model for international cooperation on public health services provision for both migrant and Thai populations along Thailand-CLM Border.

Project Workplan

Knowledge Transfer
for building awareness
for disease prevention and control.

The Development of
Referral System

The Establishment for Coordinationand Exchange of Information Centre for
Public Health between designated provinces.

Training for Emergency
Response Plan

Monitoring and Evaluation

The Improvement of Health Care Services of neighbouring countries.

Training for Migrant Health Volunteers

Project Sites

  1. Thai-Myanmar / Lao Borders – Chiang Rai Province
  2. Thai-Lao Borders – Mukdaharn and Ubon Ratchathani Provinces
  3. Thai-Myanmar Borders – Tak,
    Ranong and Kanchanaburi Provinces
  4. Thai-Cambodia Borders – Trat, Surin,
    Srikeaw and Ubon Ratchathani Provinces

Workplan during
the COVID-19 Pandemic

Smart Prevention

Smart Response

Contact tracing

Public health system

Enhancing Microbiology Laboratory Capacity for COVID-19 and Rabies Virus Detection by Quality Management System

under the Development Cooperation Programme between Thailand and CLM on Strengthening Preparedness
and Response to Pandemic of COVID-19

Short term: Knowledge Sharing Activities

The Short-term phase emphasizes exchanges of information and knowledge as COVID-19 is a new disease and no countries initially possessed adequate dataon SARS-CoV-2. Thus, TICA organized online courses to share and exchange the knowledge on the disease with target groups being medical and public health workers in Thailand’s neighboring countries and other interested countries.

The courses were conducted under various subjects such as public health system development, emergency operation center (EOC) operations and care and treatment of COVID-19 patients, etc. TICA also initiated medical consultations whereby healthcare workers from neighboring countries can seek advice from Thai experts on specific medical subjects, especially clinical practice guidelines, formulated by the Thai Ministry of Public Health, which explain how to care for COVID-19 patients In addition, TICA created an online platform called “TICA’s Knowledge Bank on COVID-19”.

Which is an online channel which grants access to medical personnel from other countries to learn about Thailand’s COVID-19 management experience, both in medical and public health aspects.

The contents in the knowledge bank were gathered from numerous online courses, medical experts and medical consultations
that TICA has held since June 2020. The platform can be accessed through TICA Cooperation YouTube channel as well as TICA’s podcast.

COVID-19 Knowledge in Different Languages

Mid-term: Emergency medical equipment support

The Mid-term phase underlines the building of preparedness for COVID-19 response through provision of urgently needed medical supplies and equipment.

Technical support and training are provided for use/operation and maintenance of those medical items as well as for the installation of a system to control, track and investigate the spread of the disease. Also included in this phase is the International Field Epidemiology Training Program (IFETP), a residency training programme for medical workers conducted by the Department of Disease Control.

The course aims to train new epidemiologists for neighboring countries.

An interview with Dr. Sein Hlyan Bo or Dr. Bo, TICA awardee
for the International Field Epidemiology Training Program : EID Track, Year 2021.

Those who have received the training will become trainers who will, in turn, train others, thus creating a pool of new epidemiologists. It will also facilitate the networking between Thai epidemiologists and those from the neighboring countries.

Moreover, considerable attention has been given to the capacity-building of migrant worker volunteers in the border areas.

They will play an important role in effectively containing the transmissions among migrant workers, who may not have easy access to the normal healthcare system.

Long term: Enhancing microbiology laboratory capacity for COVID-19 and upcoming pandemics

The long-term phase focuses on setting up the system to increase the host countries’ preparedness and response to COVID-19 and other emerging diseases.
To this end, a capacity-building programme on viral infections diagnosis for laboratories in border areas and capital cities was carried out by the Department of Medical Sciences, Ministry of Public Health. The programme was designed to serve as a model/solution that is practical, cost-effective yet efficient.

The support was targeted mainly at hospitals located along Thai borders i.e. Myawaddy Hospital in Myanmar, the Poipet Hospital in Cambodia and Bo Kaeo
and Saiyabury Hospitals in Lao PDR. ese areas are located along the Thai borders. The programme aims to tackle not only COVID-19, but also other emerging diseases that may occur in the future.

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An interview with Dr. Athiwat Primsirikunawut, our expert from the Department of Medical Sciences, Ministry of Public Health on Thailand’s Development Cooperation with neighbouring countries on the setting up of the RT-PCR laboratory system

A New Normal way of transferring knowledge.

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In the past, for every equipment delivery, TICA had to dispatch our experts to the destined country to install the equipment and set up the system, in order to make sure that the equipment delivered will be efficiently used to their maximum benefit and capacity.
However, when the COVID-19 pandemic occurs and restricts international travels, TICA then had to find some other ways to keep our projects running.
This VDO Clip is an example of how TICA, together with Department of Medical Sciences, have created the virtual Installation Manual for RT-PCR Laboratory Equipment This is how we adapt ourselves to the ‘New Normal’ way of working amidst international travel restrictions. For TICA, international development cannot be stopped and we will find ways in which knowledge can continued to be exchanged and transferred.

SEP Application on the management of COVID-19

TICA emphasizes the inclusive development approach, whereby all stakeholders and concerned authorities are included. This is to ensure that any development projects will match the demands and suit the level of readiness of partner countries. Thus, mutual benefits could be achieved and the recipient countries would be able to pursue the projects in the long run.

Thailand has successfully applied the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP) in the context of COVID-19 crisis management.
In essence, the country has developed some best practices in managing this public health crisis.

An emphasis was placed on a working modality that is both “economical and efficient.” This includes development of cost-effective yet highly efficient SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis laboratory networks that can function even in medium-sized hospitals.

This type of laboratory was implemented successfully by the Department of Medical Sciences, as evident by the presence of more than 200 laboratories across the country. Additionally, Thailand also utilizes the knowledge on how to adapt and modify hospital wards into separate rooms and cohort wards, as well as to set up field hospitals. Participation from the civil society and citizens has been encouraged through the deployment of village health volunteers and migrant worker volunteers.

These models are examples of what Thailand has to offer to partner countries in order to help them enhance their preparedness and response to public health challenges.