During the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Forum 2017 held in Tokyo, iGHP had a privilege to invite Dr. Walaiporn Patcharanarumol, Director of International Health Policy Program (IHPP), Ministry of Public Health, Thailand, who gave us an invaluable and substantive lecture on UHC. Dr. Walaiporn is one of the most successful and influential global health leaders in Thailand and beyond, and it was a wonderful opportunity to listen to her in a very close and interactive setting.
As a health financing expert, Dr. Walaiporn made a presentation on Universal Health Coverage and on Thailand’s unique experience over the past half a century in achieving the country’s Universal Health Coverage Scheme. Some of the key messages she delivered included 1) With strong political commitment, UHC can be launched and achieved at the low level of income; 2) Peace and sustained economic growth can mobilize ‘more money for health’; 3) Universal access to good quality essential health services is the real goal, not just affordable or cost-free services; 4)Building strong capacity on the health system and policy research within the country is critical; and 5) Participatory governance systems ensure real ownership.
During the seminar, Dr. Walaiporn created several discussion sessions to facilitate open dialogues with the audience. From these very interactive and informative sessions, we learned that UHC is context-specific, therefore, each country must learn from other countries’ model cases and experiences. In concluding the seminar, Dr. Walaiporn stressed that the success of UHC in each country depends much on the spirit of committed health workers, and that political and financial commitments as well as countries’ capacity for evidence-based policy are the essential factors for both sustainable and resilient health systems development and financial protection.