Welcoming Remarks of Mr. Luc Stevens, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative

26 Nov 2012

Regional Workshop: HIV/AIDS Health Care Services in Universal Health Coverage
Pullman King Power Hotel

Dr. Winai Sawasdivorn, Secretary General of the National Health Security Office

Mr. Piroon Lai-smit, Director-General of Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency,

Honored guests from Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Philippines, fellow UN colleagues, welcome.

UNDP is honored to be hosting this Regional Workshop on Universal Health Coverage with TICA, and the National Health Security Office.

Over the next few days, you will get a close look at a great policy—an achievement that began a decade ago by a coalition of people who knew that Thailand had an obligation to protect its citizens from high health care costs. And to ensure that all people—wherever they lived, whatever their orientation, whatever their ethnicity had a right—a human right to quality and affordable coverage.

This is a workshop on HIV/AIDS as much as it is a look at a best practice in providing health care coverage. HIV and AIDS remain a challenge in the region and around the world.

The annual economic cost of AIDS on Asian families is more than $2 billion. That’s a heavy cost to people, not governments.

When people living with HIV do not get the treatment they need, in Thailand and elsewhere in Asia, families lose.

HIV hurts farmers. It hurts women. It hurts children.

Entire families are marginalized, are subjected to stigma and discrimination, and are vulnerable to depression and even suicide.

Thailand’s health system as has proven that our region can break the health poverty trap. Because of this best practice, poverty as a result of health care costs have dramatically decreased—particularly among the poor.

Over the next few days, you will gain a better understanding of the components of the UHC system in Thailand—particularly with regard to HIV and AIDS. You’ll be able to share your own experiences on health security, HIV/AIDS treatment and services in your own countries and learn from Thailand’s successes and challenges in providing coverage to people living with HIV. This is a great example of South-South Cooperation among ASEAN countries—and a regional partnership that will continue for years to come.

While you are here you will visit hospitals and learn from community leaders. You’ll hear from the best that Thailand has to offer and learn a bit about the challenges that still remain. We trust that you’ll take back enough knowledge from here so that the path to universal health coverage in your own countries won’t seem so long and you’ll be able to develop a roadmpa to get there.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon set us all on a mission when he told us that he wanted to end AIDS. He set a global vision of ZERO new infections, zero new deaths, and zero discrimination. This workshop is a small step to helping realize his vision. Thailand deserves praise for making an ambitious rights-oriented approach to health care a reality for millions of people, and for their extraordinary contributions to a global vision. It will take a collective approach by governments, UN organizations, and civil society to do this. This workshop is another step to making his vision a reality.

I wish you all the best over the next few days, and I thank you.