During the 50th Programme Coordinating Board meeting held in Geneva, Thailand announced formally funding community-led health services (CLHS) as public health services. The National Health Security Board of Thailand has approved HIV prevention, treatment, and care to be directly reimbursed by the Universal Health Coverage scheme.
“This is a key milestone for Thailand regarding sustainable community-led service delivery and sustainable financing for community-based organizations. It is a model for the region and countries globally,” said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS.
The role of community-led organizations in providing HIV services is well recognized as an essential component leading to ending AIDS by 2030. Using people-centered, rights-based and stigma-free approaches by and for key population community and people living with HIV has shown to lead to an increased uptake of essential HIV services.
Since 2016, Thailand has started to fund project-based community-led HIV services through the Universal Health Coverage scheme. The allocation of the national budget has increased over time to support community-led organizations (CLO) working with people living with HIV and key populations.
However, until now, year-to-year contracting mechanisms led to operational gaps affecting the provision of HIV services. The formal recognition of community-led health services under the UHC scheme will allow for faster access to funding, continuity of service delivery, and increase CLOs capacity for greater coverage of HIV services.
“To reach the ambitious goal of ending AIDS, we have partnered with community-based organizations who play a vital role in HIV service provision to hard-to-reach populations and marginalized communities,” said Anutin Charnvirakul, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health of Thailand.
Organizations led by communities who are eligible to provide HIV and STI services in their communities can register as service providers under the National Health Security System. To get this recognition, they need at least one year of service experience and require an accreditation by the Ministry of Public Health or other certified bodies. Community health workers with relevant experience also have to be certified by a government agency or accredited organization.
The UNAIDS Thailand office has been working with different partners to support the scale-up of community health workers' certification and other accreditations as well as strengthening the sustainability of the community response.
In attendance at the 50th PCB were Dr Jadej Thammatacharee, Secretary General, National Health Security Office, Dr Opart Karnkawinpong, Director General, Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health, Dr Suwit Wibulpolprasert, Advisor to the Office of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Health and the entire three day meeting was chaired by H.E. Mr Anutin Charnvirakul, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health.