ThaiHealth and Reducing Health Risk Factors

                  Songkran Festival, or the Thai New Year, is an important period in Thai tradition where people travel back home to visit their families or go on vacations. This contributes to heavy traffic congestion on the roads, which can potentially result in accidents if drivers are careless. During this long holiday, it is crucial to emphasize driving practices, reduction of risk behaviors for road accidents, such as speeding or not using safety equipment, and enhancement of the environment to ensure road safety for drivers and pedestrians.

                  In addition, what needs to be stressed is drunk driving. It is undeniable that alcoholic beverages are a major health risk factor, being one of the leading causes of death among the Thai population and worldwide, especially during the Songkran festival. According to the information regarding injuries and fatalities during the Songkran festival in 2022 reported by the Ministry of Public Health, there were a total of 4,340 cases of drunk driving, with 502 of them aged under 20 years. The majority of accidents, accounting for 53 percent, involved drunk driving and losing control, and the accidents were predominant on secondary roads rather than main roads. Additionally, most of the vehicles involved in road accidents were motorcycles.  Essentially, this can result in accidents and potential losses.

The Mission “Prevention before Cure” Promotes Public Health: Don’t Drink and Drive, Return Home Safely…

          During the Songkran Festival, ThaiHealth and Partners join their efforts in determining campaign objectives to reduce accidents every year. In 2024, the campaign was named “Don’t Drink and Drive, Return Home Safely during Songkran” and “Drinking Affects the Brain”. It aimsto raise awareness about the effects of alcohol on the part of the brain that regulates emotions and feelings. By doing so, it is intended to enable drivers to be aware of their own safety as well as that of passengers or others.

          Dr. Pongthep Wongwatcharapaiboon, the CEO of the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth), discusses the importance of this year’s campaign, stating that “…During this Songkran festival, ThaiHealth undertook the campaign under the theme “Don’t Drive Drink and Drive, Return Home Safely” and “Drinking Affects the Brain” to demonstrate the effects of alcohol consumption on the part of the brain that controls emotions and feelings.

          In addition, ThaiHealth ran another campaign “No Drinking, No Selling Alcohol in Public Places” and released a series of spots or advertisements titled “What’s wrong”. This is to encourage individuals to create a smoke-free and alcohol-free environment in public areas, such as public parks, national parks, or at Songkran festival events to promote good cultural norms and practices. This aims to attract more tourists, minimize risks, and increase safe spaces, such as over 60 rice-family roads and 100 privately-owned water play areas nationwide. Let’s join our hands to raise awareness and reduce road accidents caused by drunk driving…,” says Dr. Pongthep.

16 Years of Harmonizing Efforts to Drive Alcohol Control Policies…

          It has been over 16 years since ThaiHealth joined forces with the Stop Drink Network and its network partners to promote health in order to reduce risk factors associated with alcohol consumption. The common goal is to improve Thai people’s health and reduce the mortality rate from drunk driving. After the enforcement of this law, it has been observed that alcohol advertising has decreased, alcohol-free areas have increased, and department stores have defined specific selling hours. Additionally, public awareness has been raised to demonstrate that alcoholic beverages are not ordinary products. In the next decade, ThaiHealth and its partners will work harder to control alcohol, especially in the face of new challenges posed by online advertising, in order to further reduce health risk factors among Thai people.

21 Years of Uniting Network Partners to Reduce Alcohol Consumption Nationwide…

          ThaiHealth has been implementing the initiatives to promote reduction and quite of alcohol consumption in various areas throughout Thailand. These initiatives are advanced by its network partners in every province across the country, operating from the community level to the provincial level. Partnership and International Relations Section (PIRS) has served to collaborate efforts among the partners to operate across regions and deal with different issues, potentially achieving new results of the initiatives on reducing health risk factors. Many areas have transformed into alcohol-free communities and charitable events and have become models for creating a healthy community, with communities as a foundation for promoting health.

          ThaiHealth’s 10-year plan for health promotion will continue unite and empower its network partners to foster awareness and understanding of the effects of alcoholic beverages among Thai people. In addition, it intends to cultivate a new social norm for a health risk-free society in order to promote holistic well-being for Thai people.

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