MEDICAL: Thailand – One Country’s COVID-19 Success – Kaieteur News Editorial

Kaieteur News – One country has come in for special mention on how it has addressed the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. This country stands as a model for others, especially a poor place like Guyana, which struggles to manage this viral emergency. Though late to make the rounds, the world can learn; we must learn quickly.

According to a MarketWatch article dated November 23, titled ‘WHO head has singled out one developing country for its success in managing the Coronavirus pandemic.” That country is Thailand.           

Thailand, over in mysterious Asia, as identified by no less a global voice than the WHO’s Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Among the surprised reactions would be; how could that be? Surely, that is an exaggeration! For Thailand is famed, or notorious, for its congested capital Bangkok, which is one of the bigger ones around, where a no-holds barred culture prevails.

Additionally, Thailand with a population of 70 million citizens, is a teeming, well-visited locale for a variety of reasons, some of the flesh, and quite a bit associated with that kind of intimate business. It is also a still developing country, with ways to go to be nearer to the top tier.
This is what the WHO had to say to a world that is hopefully paying attention, “Thailand is an excellent example that, with a whole-of-government, whole-of-society comprehensive approach, this virus can be contained – even without a vaccine.”

That is some mouthful, which Director General Ghebreyesus affirms with numbers that “speak for themselves.” We explore them through some excerpts from the MarketWatch article referenced above.
“Thailand was the first country outside China to report a case of COVID-19, but to date it has counted fewer than 4,000 cases and just 60 fatalities.” This is so, and we repeat for emphasis, “despite having a population of 70 million and one of the world’s biggest and most tightly packed cities in Bangkok.”

Guyana has a population of one seventieth of Thailand’s, and definitely way less visitors than this fast-living crossroads in the famed Golden Triangle of Asia. Yet we have more confirmed cases and deaths than Thailand. (Dec 11 -Guyana deaths are at 154)

How come this is so, these astonishingly low numbers, given Thailand’s realities? What is Thailand doing that differs from what, it would appear, most of the rest of the world is doing?
This is from WHO head Tedros Ghebreyesus, “This is not an accident,” said Ghebreyesus.
It’s because, in his view, Thailand made a commitment 40 years ago to invest in its healthcare infrastructure, and has built up a network of more than a million village health volunteers, to act as the eyes and ears of the health system in their communities. Community outlook and intelligence for national healthcare, which now proves its weight in gold, in a time of a global pandemic and panic.

In addition, Thailand has learned valuable lessons from the top of the millennium – SARS outbreak in 2003, which have been put into practice. Further still, the actions of Thai officials are not based on lessons from the past only. This country has manifested the zeal to familiarize itself and apply “the lessons of the present by working with the WHO country office…to understand how it can further strengthen its public health defences.”

When we look at our own Guyana, it is a mixed bag, as all of these elements are considered. On the positive side, our officials are receptive and cooperative in following the guidance offered by the knowledgeable representative bodies’ resident locally, with PAHO and CARICOM health groups listened to and partnered with, to a commendable degree. When examined from the minus side, however, there is both the good and cause for alarm.

There is our regional network of health professionals that interacts with communities in their line of oversight. This is helpful, but needs more robustness relative to numbers and quality facilities.
A sturdy community network, like Thailand, tuned in to health issues could help immensely. Its absence is a major disadvantage for Guyana, especially when community people contribute by their reckless actions to health crises. We can do better, but we have to be focused and serious. We must decide what our current biggest priority, greatest concern is.

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