Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros went on a study visit to Thailand this week to learn more about its universal health care system and health promotion policy.
In a two day meeting co-organized with the Health Justice International, Hontiveros, who is the Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, spoke with civil society organizations as well as government health experts from Thai Health, a government corporation set up to encourage health-seeking behavior and funded through the proceeds of excise taxes on liquor and cigarettes.
"I'm here to learn from the best practices and hopefully apply them to our country. The Thai experience is a good model. Spending on health care will have long term benefits and will reduce spending for curative or tertiary health care in the future," Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros explained that her trip complements the Department of Health's (DoH) own study visit to Cuba to learn how its government is running its health service.
"We should learn from the best health models. I am eager to share what I've learned from my study visit to Thailand to the DoH, the same way that I'm looking forward to hear the report of our health officials who visited Cuba," Hontiveros said.
Harm reduction strategies in confronting the drug problem
Hontiveros also met with officials from agencies of the United Nations (UN) to discuss harm reduction strategies and to help in developing a public health framework in confronting the country's drug problem. The Senator visited a support center for drug users and heard testimonies from rehabilitated users themselves.
It was reported that Thailand's former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra declared a "police-centric" war on drugs in 2003. In June 2016, the war on drugs was declared a failure.
"Upang maging matagumpay ang ating kampanya laban sa ilegal na droga, importante na pag-aralan natin ang ibat ibang modelo na nagtagumpay, at yaong mga nabigo. The problem of illegal drugs is a multi-faceted issue. Thus, the need to address it through different lens, particularly through a public health framework," Hontiveros concluded.