Updates on Thailand’s policies in tackling chronic diseases

Dr Sasithorn Tangsawad from Ministry of Public Health, Thailand, updates on the country’s chronic disease management policies.

Speaker: Dr Sasithorn Tangsawad

Director, Bureau of Non-Communicable Disease, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand

Summary

Noncommunicable disease (NCDs) formed the highest proportion amongst underlying diseases in Thailand’s COVID-19 deaths. 37% of the deaths had hypertension or diabetes.

The outbreak has resulted in more NCD risk behaviours, such as an decrease in physical activity, and increased stress during lockdown periods. A survey of patients with hypertension showed that only 63% had a blood pressure monitor at home, while 21% of diabetes patients did not know their blood sugar level. There is thus a need for more awareness amongst patients of the self-care methods they can conduct at home.

Dr Sasithorn noted that this was an opportunity to develop the health systems and promote healthy lifestyles that avoid NCD risk behaviours. The ministry also hopes to support self-care services at home, where people can monitor their own health indicators and make use of home-based medical equipment.

Thailand plans to implement the National Reform Plan on NCDs over the next few years. This plan aims to reorientate NCD services to health promotion and prevention, and it will focus on risk behaviour prevention and modification in the working age population.

Key takeaways:

  1. Patients suffering from NCDs are at a higher mortality risk from COVID-19.
  2. The COVID-19 lockdown has increased NCD risk behaviours, pointing to a possibility of a future increase in NCD sufferers in the future.
  3. Thailand’s future NCD management plan will focus on the reduction of NCD risk behaviours, especially within the working population.

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