Abstract

The World Health Organization handbook on Strategizing National Health in the 21st Century has emphasized the importance of the process of population consultation on needs and expectations. According to Thailand National Health Act 2007, three innovative social tools for participatory healthy public policy process were proposed, i.e., health assembly, health impact assessment and health system statute (charter). In practice, population consultation process is required in the process of the tools implementation. Therefore, this paper aims to illustrate how local health statute implementation supports population participation and consultation at the local level.

The first local health statute owned by Cha-lae sub-district in Songkla Province had been introduced in 2009. So far, there are above 500 sub-districts or “Tambon” having their own health system statutes. Tambon Administrative Organization (TAO), health and non-health sectors, community leaders and civil society seemed to be key actors or a mechanism for the local health statute. This demonstrated three crucial elements or sectors for policy development, i.e., policy maker, evidence support and society. Contents of the local health statute are wide ranged, including social determinants, risks and diseases, life style, health services, health fund, to mental and social health in regard to the local problem and context. Therefore, it needs the process of discussion and consultation to seek their common interest and expectation.

Local health statute in Thailand is an example of engagement and consultation of the population for health policy. This confirmed the process of population consultation on their needs and expectation that can be implemented both at national and local levels. This is also the strategy to improve the accountability of policy makers for health impacts at all levels of policy making. The challenges of local health statute include the mechanism to maintain and ensure the engagement and ownership for sustainable implementation. Lastly, the local government’s continued commitment toward providing funding support through the implementation process and the self-assessment framework of implementation is needed.