It is undeniable that there are a great number of migrants seeking economic opportunities in Thailand nowadays. This population is vital to drive our country’s economy forward. According to the Bank of Thailand, migrants who have elementary occupations compose as much as 6% of the nation’s working-age population. The majority of them fulfils the labour demand in the manufacturing sector, fishing industry, and domestic work. Still, the migrant population has faced various problems such as human rights violation and limited access to social welfare, education, and primary healthcare services.
In order to enable migrant workers to access proper healthcare services, especially the ones related to the management of the communicable diseases that can post threats to the country’s overall public health situation, cross-sector collaboration from the government, civil sector, and the public is required for action taking based on the appropriate knowledge and understanding and proper compliance to the country’s laws and regulations.
Last September, World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT), supported by the Global Fund, joined hands with AIDS Healthcare Foundation (Thailand), Ranong Provincial Public Health Office, and Kawthong General Hospital, Ministry of Health and sports, Myanmar to hold the Cross Border Patient Referral and Feedback Mechanism (CBPRFM) Framework Development Workshop, a bilateral, implementer-focused meeting to develop mechanism and cooperation in providing cross-border healthcare and referral services to TB, HIV/AIDS, and malaria cases along Thailand’s Ranong and Myanmar’s Kawthong. A total of 35 attendants from both countries – including representatives from Ranong Provincial Public Health Office, Ranong Hospital, Border Coordination Unit Area 6, Ranong Province, Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health, Chiang Rai Provincial Public Health Office, Mae Sai Hospital, Chiang Saen Hospital, staff from the Ministry of Health and Sports, Kawthong General Hospital, Myanmar, and staff from the American Refugee Committee, Myanmar – participated in the event to exchange knowledge and work experience. Kampol Limthongnoppakun, MD, Deputy Director of Medical Unit, and Assistant Director of Secondary and Tertiary Health Service Ministry, Ranong Hospital, Ranong province, presided over the workshop opening ceremony while Norathep Atsawaphatchara, MD, Deputy Medical Officer of Ranong Provincial Public Health Office, joined the resolutions session and gave the closing remark.
This workshop featured a forum for discussion and reflection of the actual problems and existing case referral and follow-up process. An example of an international, Internet-based case referral systems in the form of a web application that has been developed and used: TB&HIV Cross-border Referral (THCR) was presented. Moreover, a more systematic, integrated plan was drafted to identify key coordinators and referral staff who will ensure ongoing treatment and more effective cross-border case management. This collective effort will enable migrant workers, in compliance with the protocols of Thailand and Myanmar, to properly access healthcare services and be part of the care system – from vigilance, case referral, follow-up care, to repatriation (if the patients wish). This collaboration will result in more effective joint actions to control, prevent, and solve the problems arisen from major communicable diseases.
World Vision Foundation of Thailand is a Christian relief and development organisation that works to improve the quality of life and support the impoverished and underprivileged in the society, as well as those living in difficulties. Our focus is on development work for the lives of children, families, communities and victims in disasters. Advocacy and public awareness building is part of our ministries carried out through a range of special projects that promote good health among population along the country’s border, including migrants, in accordance with the human rights, in order to ensure that the target groups have access to health services and means to control, prevent, and treat serious communicable diseases that have adverse impacts upon children, families, and communities. Among these projects are Stop TB and AIDS through RRTTR and Regional Artemisinin Resistance Initiative financially supported by the Global Fund.