Welcoming and Opening Remarks by
H.E. Mr. Don Pramudwinai,
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand
at the International Universal Health Coverage Day 2020
“Health for All: Protect Everyone”
on Tuesday 8 December 2020 at 14.30 hrs.
at Naradhip Auditorium, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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Dr. Sathit Pitutecha, Deputy Minister of Public Health
Ladies and Gentlemen,
- It is my great pleasure to welcome all of you to this important event on “International Universal Health Coverage Day 2020, Health for All: Protect Everyone”. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs could not be more pleased to be organizing this event with the National Health Security Office (NHSO) of the Ministry of Public Health.
- At the outset, let me offer my sincere thanks to the distinguished panelists today ahead of their discussion. I also would like to welcome representatives from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Office in Thailand, the WHO Thailand Office, the Ministry of Public Health, the National Health Security Office and the Foundation for Labour and Employment Promotion.
- I am confident this will be a dynamic conversation between the government, an international organization and a representative of civil society to share their views on what more we can and should be doing to ensure Universal Health Coverage for all.
Ladies and gentlemen,
- Thailand made the intentional policy choice and commitment to ensure Universal Health Coverage for our people almost two decades ago. At that time, people had their doubts. And it took one government administration after another to maintain momentum and attention on this policy choice. It also took a great deal of effort to overcome challenges to implementing what was thought to be a ‘pipe dream’.
- But the investments have paid off. As we commemorate International UHC Day today amidst a raging pandemic, we know that we made the right choice. Today, essential health services related to COVID-19 are fully covered by the national UHC scheme. Free treatment for COVID-19 is even extended to foreigners, regardless of their nationality and immigration status. And all of this matters in a big way, especially when it comes to fighting a pandemic.
- For Thailand, healthcare is a basic human right. The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, or economic or social condition.
- Everyone should have access to the health services they need, without suffering financial hardship. No one should become sick and die just because they are poor, or because they cannot access the health services they need.
- This is a fundamental belief that has underscored Thailand’s prioritization of this right for its people. It has justified the investments that successive governments have made in ensuring the delivery of Universal Health Coverage.
Ladies and gentlemen,
- UHC has been our armour against COVID-19. This pandemic and the damage it continues to inflict worldwide has only served to further reinforce our convictions. But it does not and cannot stop here.
- We believe that promoting UHC and strengthening it further will help us not only to fight future pandemics but also drive forward “the Decade of Action” toward realizing and safeguarding the health-related targets of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. In this regard, ‘leaving no one behind’ also means ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, and that they are considered global public goods.
- At the end of the day, no man is an island and no country survives a pandemic alone. We hope to share our experience with UHC and the significance it has held in our fight against COVID-19. We do so in the belief that other countries can also make meaningful investments and policy choices for their people, as it has benefits for the entire world.
- I thank you.
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