Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting on AIDS, Tuberculosis and Universal Health Coverage: Country Experiences, Challenges and Solutions
On 5 September 2018, the Department of International Organizations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand, in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health, the National Health Security Office (NHSO), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Partnership Project for Global Health and Universal Health Coverage (GLO+UHC), and the World Health Organization (WHO) organised the “Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting on AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Universal Health Coverage: Country Experiences, Challenges and Solutions” at the Sukosol Hotel in Bangkok.
At the regional meeting, Mr. Thani Thongphakdi, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Dr. Sombat Thanprasertsuk, Senior Expert in Preventive Medicine at the Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health of Thailand; and Mr. Shigeki Miyake, Senior Representative of JICA Thailand Office, delivered opening remarks. Mr. Eamonn Murphy, Regional Director of UNAIDS for Asia and the Pacific, delivered a keynote address.
During the morning session, panelists from Indonesia, Cambodia, India, Japan and Thailand, as well as representatives from civil society, WHO and JICA discussed practices and policies on AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Universal Health Coverage. The session was attended by around 150 participants from government agencies, embassies, international organisations, civil society, and academia. In the afternoon, panelists and participants held a site visit at the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Disease Institute, Ministry of Public Health which is known for its leadership in providing treatment to AIDS and Tuberculosis patients under Thailand’s Universal Health Coverage Scheme.
This regional meeting is part of the overall effort by Thailand to raise awareness and promote UHC collaboration among multi-stakeholders in Asia and the Pacific at the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly in December 2017 in which Thailand successfully passed a resolution marking 12 December as International UHC Day. JICA, UNAIDS, and WHO commended Thailand for the successful implementation of the UHC system and its cooperation with JICA in sharing its experiences with other countries.
The outcome of this regional meeting will provide useful input for discussions at the upcoming High-level Meeting on the Fight against Tuberculosis during the 73rd UNGA in September 2018 and the High-level Meetings on UHC at the 74th UNGA next year. Both meetings are outcomes of resolutions proposed by Thailand together with members of the Foreign Policy and Global Health Initiative (FPGH).
According to the statistics of the Ministry of Public Health, in 2011 Tuberculosis surpassed HIV/AIDS as the leading cause of death from infectious diseases. Two-thirds of TB patients come from the Asia-Pacific Region. In addition, the region witnessed prevalence of HIV and TB co-infection. Currently, the number of people living with HIV in Thailand is around 450,000 while the rate of new AIDS infection is approximately 6,000 persons per year. As for Tuberculosis, the rate of newly infected patients is around 120,000 per year placing Thailand in the first place among the 14 countries with the highest rates of Tuberculosis infections. Thailand is targeting to eliminate AIDS by 2030 and to reduce the rate of Tuberculosis infection to 10 per 100,000 persons by 2035.