Friday, June 18, 2021

in-focus

Public hearings on Universal Coverage Scheme being held online amid pandemic


The National Health Security Office (NHSO) is holding virtual public hearings to improve the Universal Coverage Scheme (UCS) and answer stakeholders needs, a senior official has said.

The NHSO has not suspended its public hearings despite the Covid-19 third wave in Thailand, said Dr Jedsada Chokdamrongsuk, chairman of NHSO's subcommittee for communication and public hearing.

"Public hearing is at the heart of UCS's establishment. The NHSO is committed to engage all stakeholders in its decision-making process as described in Article 18 of the National Health Security Act, which became effective in 2002," he said.

The NHSO has annually run public hearings to get feedback and hear suggestions from UCS stakeholders, including health providers, patient groups, local administrative organisations, and vulnerable populations.

This year, a series of public hearings from early March to June, are held mainly via Facebook Live and Zoom due to the pandemic. The hearings have been held in four out of 13 NHSO regional areas such as region 13 (Bangkok), region 10 (Ubon Ratchathani), region 9 (Nakhon Ratchasima), and region 8 (Udon Thani), he said.

Public hearings on Universal Coverage Scheme being held online amid pandemic

The NHSO plans to organise virtual public hearings in the rest of the regional areas by the end of May. All opinions will be gathered, analysed, and put in policy recommendations to be discussed during the national-level public hearing on June 25, Dr Jedsada said.

There are seven main issues to be discussed: the scope of public health services provided under UCS, the standard of health services, UCS fund management, NHSO's operation, Community Health Fund management, stakeholders' participation, health literacy, and healthcare rights protection, he said.

Public hearings on Universal Coverage Scheme being held online amid pandemic

"Since the introduction of UCS 18 years ago, we have put in consistent efforts to improve the scheme by increasing the benefits package coverage, improving healthcare access, and healthcare rights protection for the beneficiaries," Dr Jedsada said.

"We are well aware that public hearing gives the UCS ownership to all stakeholders, which make it a crucial element that brings sustainability to the UCS," he said.

Published : May 21, 2021

By : The Nation