Two lawmakers stand against amendment of Health Promotion Act, urge to address transparency issues

Two lawmakers have expressed their concern over the proposed amendment of the Health Promotion Act, wanted instead to
add transparency issues into the regulation for fearing the organisation would return to the original framework by focusing only on curing patients, while suggesting that ThaiHealth chairpersons not sit in the project approval committee.


                      Today (Nov 5) Mr Somchai Swangkarn, member of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) commented about the proposed amendment of the Health Promotion Act B.E. 2544 as saying that, after ThaiHealth’s annual audits, he viewed that ThaiHealth is an organisation with beneficial results. However, the law that is currently under public spotlight must be reconsidered. So as ThaiHealth as an organisation, must be ready to be under scrutiny, in condition that the auditing organisation performs such audit under standards. As now, there are concerns about the standards of both the audited and the auditing organisations. As for the issue of conflict of interest, ThaiHealth should reconsider its project approval method. The organisation’s chairpersons should not take second position in the project approval committee. Furthermore, if there is any task that is considered beyond the power of ThaiHealth, the organisation should let other organisations do such task.

                      “If the government insists to amend the law, it should be done carefully by avoiding any activity that turns the time back to when the politicians held higher cards than ThaiHealth’s operations. It all would revert to the conservatism where the health promotion effort was only done by curing people. If it was to revert to the said practice, there is nothing to keep ThaiHealth from existing because there would always be the Ministry of Public Health that could well do this curing job. I personally think that, if the law needs to be amended, it must be clear about which points are to be amended, on appropriate extent, with clear path and direction, not to length that the organisation can no longer do its job. If it was to be so, the government would have to answer the questions posed by the society,” said Mr Somchai.


                      He also added that, at the same time, the Health Promotion Act can be amended in certain points that are considered problematic, such as in rules, regulations, and policies, which can be done right away to clear out transparency issues and regain public confidence. The organisation assigned to audit ThaiHealth must conclude bilateral cooperation agreement. The Office of the Auditor General must operate under standard by taking into consideration the internationally-accepted health promotion work. If the scrutiny is done using outdated ideas and standards, the nationwide campaigning work that has been done for a long time would come to a halt and become a failure.


                      Meanwhile, Mr Montien Boonton, another member of the NLA, spoke over the amendment of the Health Promotion Act by expressing concerns about reverting the society back to the heavily bureaucratic government administration, if the amendment was to be done as described in the proposition. He also urged the government not to narrow down the conceptual framework and not to make ThaiHealth go back to the old, obsolete ideas, as it is not compatible with inter-organisation collaboration, which would eventually hinder the development. Moreover, the old system would even induce a more serious case of corruption as there is no other partnering organisation. Everything would be bare from top down which looks as if it was good but it has been proven that the top-down hierarchial administration would make the operation very delayed and counter-productive. Nowadays, the trend of anti-corruption activities is popular. However, it is important not to forget to support people who do good things.


                      “I agree with the idea that ThaiHealth needs to be audited thoroughly and its rules and regulations must be reconsidered at some points, but my opinion is against the amendment of the law. Procedures and staff also need to be investigated. Any wrongdoing about budget found in any procedure or in any person involved, the law and punishment should be executed on certain persons or projects. The improvement of ThaiHealth should focus on expanding the conceptual framework of its operations to promote good health and strong communities. If the amendment of the Health Promotion Act pulled the organisation and its operations back to the previous legal context, ThaiHealth would become a mere financial process that does not pay attention to effects and results.”



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