Developing regional capacity and leadership on HRH
Author: HRH Research and Development Program International Health Policy Program, Thailand (IHPP) Ministry of Public Health
Thailand is a lower middle-income country in Southeast Asia with a population of 64 million (in 2009). It has a pluralistic health care system which is dominated by the public sector. There is at least one rural health center with 3-5 well trained health personnel in every commune, servicing 3,000 - 5,000 people. There is one rural district hospital covering 30,000 - 60,000 people, manned by 3-6 doctors. Private hospitals and clinics are mainly situated in the urban cities and the capital.
Thailand has struggled with HRH planning over the past 4 decades and has experienced successes and failures. The advent of the Universal Health Coverage Scheme in the country has lead to a rapid increase in the demand for health policy, resulting in a severe shortage of the country’s capacity to generate adequate evidence on Human Resources for Health. To address this shortage in capacity the Systems Research Institute (HRSI), in partnership, has created a National HRH strategic plan.
In 2005, the HRSI set up the ‘HRH development programme (HRHDP)’, which has worked closely with stakeholders to develop the ten-year National HRH strategic plan, 2007-2016. The National HRH Development Committee was then established and mandated to guide and steer the plan’s implementation. The National Health Commission, established under the National Health Act 2007 and chaired by the Prime Minister, is comprised of representatives from the political sector, academia and civil society. This commission monitors and guides the National HRH Strategic Plan and serves as a forum for full participation from all stakeholders to develop the plan, and provide monitoring and evaluation in order to continuously develop the HRH system in line with the country’s health needs.
A secretariat team comprising HSRI, MOPH, National health Commission and HRHDP representatives has been set up to support evidence-based inputs as well as facilitate the function of National HRH Commission. The National HRH Development Committee meets regularly with the support of the secretariat team. From this, a new programme was started in 2008 which aimed to build up the capacity on HRH research and management.
Although a large amount of work is still required to fully address the concerns around HRH strategic planning capacity in the country, the National HRH Strategic plan has made some positive inroads towards addressing them. The creation of systems and organizations such as the National HRH Commission among others is testament to the commitment towards addressing Thailand’s HRH Strategic planning resources shortage.