Joint Intra-Action Review of the Public Health Response to COVID-19 in Thailand
The Joint Intra-Action Review (IAR), conducted in July, was a collaboration between the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and the WHO to identify key strengths and vulnerabilities of Thailand’s COVID-19 response. It was done using a new WHO tool for country intra-action reviews.
The review report highlights important success factors and provides recommendations across nine important areas, or “pillars” of any country’s national response.
The Intra Action Review was conducted by sixteen reviewers from diverse backgrounds and included experts from WHO and other UN Agencies, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and academia. The reviewers were independent; none were directly involved in the MoPH response.
Between July 20-24, the reviewers interviewed 96 Thai policy makers, technical experts and responders to gather information and insight. They then made their recommendations based on consensus.
The IAR highlights some of the factors that have allowed Thailand to successfully control COVID-19 so far: these include strong leadership that responds to best scientific evidence; a strong underlying strong public health system, the countries previous experience with other important outbreaks, and a strong collaboration with the academic and private sectors.
The reviewers also agreed on recommendations about what could be improved in the Ministry of Health’s response. The most important are provide in the background below.
”The review’s recommendations focus on enhancing coordination, improving surveillance and data systems for COVID-19, and strengthening and protecting the health workforce. Addressing these recommendations quickly will ensure an even more effective response to future waves of COVID-19 in Thailand,” said Dr Daniel Kertesz, WHO Representative to Thailand
While the primary intention of the IAR was to strengthen Thailand’s national COVID-19 response, for other countries, the findings offer useful information to support their efforts to control the pandemic.
“This review is not only important for the country, but for the WHO South-East Asia Region and beyond, as countries across the world are learning while responding to the pandemic” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia
Noting the review’s results, H.E. Anutin Charnvirakul, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health added, “I’d like to ask everyone to remain vigilant and practice the basic measures recommended by the Ministry of Public Health, whether it is wearing a mask in public places, keeping a distance, avoiding crowded or closed spaces where possible, washing hands regularly, and always registering on “Thai Chana” every time they visit places.”
Going forward, the Thailand MOPH and WHO Thailand will work together with partners to implement the key recommendations from the IAR.