News @ JSI

Universal Health Coverage: Lessons from Thailand

November 13, 2017

A delegation of 16 representatives from the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) recently spent a week in Thailand on a structured learning visit jointly sponsored by JSI's USAID Strengthening Ethiopia's Urban Health Program and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Fenot Project. One representative from USAID and two from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also accompanied them.

Thailand is a middle-income country that has overcome many of the challenges currently facing Ethiopia's health system. The delegates visited institutes and health facilities within the Thai Ministry of Public Health to learn how the country developed its national health financing and delivery systems to achieve universal health coverage. 

Throughout the week, the delegates heard that Thailand's progress toward universal health coverage took time and happened in conjunction with other social and economic factors. "The good news is it can be done [in Ethiopia] but we have to be focused and strategic," said Dr. Daniel Gebre-Michael, chief of staff of the FMOH State Minister's Office.

On the final day of the visit, the delegates formulated recommendations for universal health coverage/insurance, evidence-informed policy making, and advancing primary health care. Dr. Meseret Zelalem, director-general of the Office of the Minister, promised to take these points back to her office and asked the other delegates to be accountable along with her in putting them into action.