ThaiHealth issues warnings on fine dust pollution, food security in latest report


The Thai Health Promotion Foundation identified seven critical trends demanding immediate attention for the country’s well-being in its ThaiHealth Watch 2024 report.

The concerns identified in the report include multi-generational family conflicts, the impact of unhealthy snacks, online gambling, hazardous homemade alcohol, ease of drug accessibility, alarming levels of PM2.5 air pollution and growing concerns over food security.

Benjamaporn Limpisathian, senior assistant chief executive officer and acting director of ThaiHealth Resource Centre, said these trends were based on the most commonly searched health and wellness topics on the internet.

“All these conditions affect Thais and can lead to severe physical and mental health problems later if we don’t address them seriously,” she said.

Of the seven conditions, she said the two most urgent issues for Thailand are PM2.5 pollution and food security.

With more than 1.7 million Thais already suffering health consequences due to air and dust pollution, she urged collaborative efforts between the government and relevant stakeholders.

Benjamaporn Limpisathian

She said there were several reasons to be blamed for high levels of fine dust in the air, including car emissions, construction, factories and agriculture.

“Each cause necessitates its own set of solutions. Hence, the government should work with related parties to sustainably reduce the severity of PM2.5,” she said.


Threat to food, families
Meanwhile, climate change’s adverse effects on food production and access make food security a looming challenge, necessitating strategic planning to address the well-being of underprivileged groups.

ThaiHealth issues warnings on fine dust pollution, food security in latest report

Benjamaporn cited a recent study that found a 50% chance of global temperatures rising by 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next five years to back her statement.

Another area of concern is the increase in multi-generational conflicts, that trigger stress and tension among family members.

“Improving listening and communicating will help relieve stress and lead to better health,” she said.

Unhealthy snacks, particularly those high in sugar and sodium, pose a threat to children’s health, with daily consumption contributing to a potential 31% increase in noncommunicable diseases, especially diabetes.

The report also identified online gambling that is impacting Thai teenagers negatively. Easy access to gambling has led to addiction, financial loss and debt among teenagers.

“The problem is such easy access makes teenagers view gambling as just a game to play for fun without realising the worst-case scenario,” she explained.

She added that the only way to control this will be to launch community-led monitoring mechanisms and legislative measures to curb online gambling.

ThaiHealth issues warnings on fine dust pollution, food security in latest report

Drugs and alcohol
Then comes the legalisation of locally made alcoholic beverages.

Benjamaporn stressed the importance of proper regulations to prevent the inclusion of harmful substances that could lead to fatal consequences. Easy access to drugs also remains a significant challenge, with preventive measures recommended to create a supportive environment and reduce reliance on drugs.

“Curiosity, domestic violence, financial hardship and difficult environment are just some factors that drive teenagers towards drugs. Easy access to drugs will only exacerbate the problems. Creating preventive measures, such as providing activities to boost young people’s potential will help end their reliance on substances,” she said.

ThaiHealth issues warnings on fine dust pollution, food security in latest report

Dr Pairoj Saonuam, ThaiHealth’s assistant chief executive officer, said the report’s goal is to raise awareness and encourage people to make healthier lifestyle choices.

“We [Thaihealth] believe that once people realise what is harmful to their health and wellness, they will try to avoid them,” he said.

He added that the report should also help the government strengthen the public health structure, so all Thais could be taken care of.