Mahidol University, Thai Health Promotion Foundation, and its network of partners, have jointly opened Thailand Physical Activity Knowledge Development Centre (TPAK) to fight against five issues that hinder physical activity movement and to promote physical activities in the international level with highlights on Play-Learn-Know model.
June 25, 2020 – Mahidol University, Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth), and partners launched an opening of Thailand Physical Activity Knowledge Development (TPAK) at Institute for Population and Social Research of Mahidol University. The press conference featured an online discussion on “Importance of Physical Activities for Thai people under New-Normal lifestyle”, forging collaboration among partners in reviving Thai people’s active physical activities during CoVid-19 outbreak.
Asst Prof Auemphorn Mutchimwong, Acting Vice Rector for Finance of Mahidol University, said that Mahidol University is well known for its expertise in producing research and studies beneficial to the development and application of creations of innovation and solution for the betterment of people’s lifestyles especially in terms of health. The university, therefore, decided to join hands with ThaiHealth in support of continual academic excellence following the fast-paced changes in the country and in the world, including the promotion of physical activities that is directly associated with health as stated by Dr Fiona Bull, World Health Organisation’s President of the International Society for Physical Activity and Health and expert in physical activity policy design, that “Situations and directions in the promotion of physical activities on the international level should be regarded as necessity, by employing academic centre’s mechanisms as the main drive to achieve effective conduct of a project.”
Dr Pairoj Saonuam, ThaiHealth Deputy CEO and Acting Director of Healthy Lifestyle Promotion Section, said that information gathered by TPAK during CoVid-19 outbreak has brought the physical activity rate among Thai people down from 75% to 55%. So, it is necessary to revive Thai people’s rate of engagement in physical activities in order to prevent long-term health impacts. ThaiHealth is employing Tri-Power strategy comprising the following:
1. Campaigns to raise awareness through various public media.
2. Movement to officialise and enforce policies that affect the public at large.
3. Knowledge and reliable fruits of academic studies are the key in pushing and driving the policies.
TPAK is considered a mechanism that provides support in terms of information and research on physical activities on the foundation of demographic and societal façades. Its work supports various partner networks and the general public to put to use in projects aiming at promoting physical activities among Thai population. The newly established centre will also help co-ordinate among various agencies in policy enforcement, academic and society-based knowledge, /database development, information collection tools, analytical reports, follow-ups, and evaluation.
Assoc Prof Aree Champaklai, Director of Mahidol University’s Institute for Population and Social Research, explained that TPAK has been established on the collaboration of Mahidol University, ThaiHealth, and its partner network, with an objective of conducting researches that are up to the international academic standards, providing academic information, knowledge, and reliable /database, for public use in promoting physical activities among Thai people. The /database and information to be provided will be based on information collected under various situations and circumstances critical to policy-wise decision-making processes, researches, and development of many forms of physical activity promotion and reduction of idle behaviour in population of every age range. The analytical information and innovative societal processes provided will also help stimulating Thai people to engage themselves more in physical activities.
Asst Prof Dr Piyawat Ketwongsa, Head of TPAK Centre at Mahidol University’s Institute for Population and Social Research, added that TPAK is proposing five measures or five issues that hinder engagement of physical activities among Thai people. The five issues are:
1. Campaigns, communications, and awareness raising about the true meaning and benefits of physical activities in multiple dimensions.
2. Dissemination of correct guidelines and creation of stimulating factors to help increase the rate of physical activities at homes.
3. Support for communities as the centre of physical activity promotion initiatives and utilisation of safe and healthy environment.
4. Creation of joint responsibilities in the promotion of physical activities to develop skills and among youngsters.
5. Amelioration of measures in hygiene and safety in the organising of physical activities and community sport events.
TPAK has developed a monitoring system that can follow up the development of rates in conducting physical activities among Thai people, which is in line with national policy on physical activity promotion for 2018-2030. One good example can be seen in its “Active School” project that was later developed into “Play-Learn-Know” model, and then upgraded into WHO-accepted physical activity promotion project in use in developing countries. The project has also been in use in three-dimensional toy identically named “Play-Learn-Know”. And today, TPAK is ready to implement “Thailand Report Card Global Matrix 3.0” project to collect information pertaining to physical activities among Thailand’s youngsters and those in 50 other countries worldwide, which will lead to suitable policy and strategy in promoting physical activities.
“TPAK is operating on three phases. Firstly, the centre is developing academic knowledge to stimulate readiness among partner networks. Secondly, the centre will engage in more concrete approaches most suitable for various circumstances, such as, under CoVid-19 outbreak, with emphasis on benefits of the society and network partners. And lastly, the developed academic knowledge will have been accepted and utilised as citations on national and international levels, and a tool for societal change,” said Asst Prof Piyawat.