M.R. Sukhumbhand Paribatra
Governor of Bangkok
Now, for the first time in history more people live in cities than in rural areas. In the past, urban environments provided the milieus for major political, social, economic, scientific and technological changes. Therefore, the present trends in urbanization can be expected to give rise to opportunities for human progress in many areas. But with such opportunities also come challenges. Rapidly growing urban population pose a number of increasingly serious problems which have to be addressed, ranging from poverty, housing and public utilities shortages, pollution and environmental deterioration, to vulnerabilities to pandemic and inadequacies of public health services. Given the scope and severity of these problems, it is well nigh impossible for individual city administrations to find and implement sustainable solutions on their own, without at least sharing experiences and best practices with others. In today’s world, cooperation among cities, as well as between cities, on the one hand, and central government authorities and various regional and international organization, on the other, is imperative.
Among its numerous responsibilities, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has to safeguard the health of some twelve million people. Access to good health care is of key importance to the performance of this task. In recent years the city of Bangkok has become a major global wellness hub, providing medical and other services for foreign visitors from far and wide. While this transformation must be welcomed for monetary and humanitarian reasons, it makes the responsibility of ensuring good health care for the ordinary citizens of Bangkok even more difficult, as increasing resources, human and otherwise, are “diverted” to meet external demands. Furthermore, just over the horizon are two looming challenges, which the BMA has to be prepared to address. One is an aging problem. The other is depression, which is predicted to be a serious problem in the very near future.
Given its resources and institutional experience, the BMA is perhaps better placed than many city administrations to cope with the challenges, both present and emerging. But we believe, and believe very strongly, that cooperation with others is a key to finding and implementing sustainable solutions. For this reason, we welcome close collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO). We praise the WHO for its initiatives in tackling issues which affect, not only this generation, but the lives and well-being of generations to come.
As Governor of Bangkok, I believe that prevention is the heart of public health and equity its soul. I will endeavour to make sure that all the citizens of Bangkok have access to good health care. In the performance of this challenging task, I look forward to increasingly close cooperation with the WHO.
Partnership must be the way forward.