Thailand’s wins praise for universal care coverage for TB
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recognised Thailand as being the world leader in universal healthcare coverage for tuberculosis (TB), an infectious lung disease caused by bacteria that is responsible for over a million deaths globally each year.
In its Global Tuberculosis Report 2023 published earlier this month, WHO said that among 30 countries with a high TB burden, only Thailand stands out as having a high service coverage index (82 in 2021) and a low level of catastrophic health expenditures (2% of households).
WHO went on to report that Thailand’s universal health coverage scheme was established in 2002 to provide an explicit benefit to all citizens not already covered by a health insurance scheme in the formal sector, supported by domestic funding and a strong primary health care system.
Dr Niti Hetanurak, deputy director-general of the Department of Disease Control, said on Monday that Thailand’s universal health coverage for TB targets all citizens to ensure equal access to diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the infectious disease.
“The scheme provided comprehensive diagnosis for better treatment planning, including chest x-ray, lab testing for infection in the latent period, and testing for drug-resistant bacteria,” he said.
Niti added that these services are available free of charge so as not to add to the people’s financial burden and to complement the country’s goal of achieving target 3.8 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
SDG target 3.8 aims to achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.
WHO’s recognition of Thailand’s efficient universal coverage for TB was also mentioned during the Union World Conference on Lung Health 2023, held in Paris, France from November 13-18.