Thai-German Technical Cooperation in the field of health started in 1965.
- First, it promoted several Thai health institutes at national and regional levels. To meet the real needs of the people, it then shifted to improve rural health care.
- Later, it dealt with specific health challenges, such as AIDS, drug problems and occupational health, as well as health research and system reform.
- Recently, it became one of the focal themes of Thai-German trilateral cooperation.
In 1962, during the state visit of Heinrich Lübke, President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Lübke had promised German assistance to Thai health care sector.
Considering the lack of specialize clinics, such as cancer and neurological diseases, the cooperation started with promotion of selected national health institutes such as Prassat Neurological Hospital and Public Health Research Institute in Bangkok. Main activities were procurement of laboratory equipments and training of medical personnel.
At a regional level, from 1966-1975, Germany also supported the newly-founded SEAMEO TROPMED Centre, Bangkok, which was the focal point for education, training and research in tropical medicine and public health under the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education.
Due to insufficient rural health care, from 1970s onwards, the cooperation extended to rural population. Health institutes in the provinces were supported, such as the Medical Faculty at Khon Kaen University.
In the 1970s and 1980s, other on-going Thai-German development projects mainly focused on agriculture and rural development. Many of them included a health component.
The Thai-German Rodent Control Project was conducted with Thai Department of Health to combat rats, dangerous disease carriers. Thai-German Plant Protection Programme also aimed at reducing residues in agricultural products bringing health benefits to farmers and consumers. Rural development projects such as Thai-German Land Settlement Promotion Project and Thai-German Highland Development Program, also promoted basic medical services for settlement and highland communities.
In 1988, as part of a Thai government program, Thai-German Liver Fluke Control Project was implemented in Northeastern provinces. The project addressed health issue in the rural area caused by community behaviour.
Beyond the government, Thai-German projects also supported NGO’s endeavor to promote family planning in rural regions. The Family Planning and Health Care Project was conducted with the Population and Community Development Association (PDA), the largest Thai NGO pioneering family planning issue.
Thai-German projects also addressed “new” health challenges, such as drug abuse, HIV/AIDS and Occupational Safety and Health in the Thai Industry.
Health financing and health security became more important. The Thai-German Health Card Project researched and tested possible voluntary health insurance system. The project provided initial information and contributed to the ambitious reform for Thailand universal health care coverage or 30-Baht scheme established in 2002.
In 2004, Thai-European Health Care Reform Project, managed by GTZ, further supported the National Health Security Office on the scheme management. It was the last EU-funded project to Thai health sector.
The need for regional cooperation is so obvious. Our countries are neighbouring countries. The problems of our region are our problems. If we do not cooperate and start solving problems now, who else can better solve our problems for us? Take tropical medicine. We live in the tropics. Tropical diseases are our problems. A coordinated programme of research and training in this region will eliminate the possibility of overlapping of work…”- M.L. Pin Malakul, 20th Thai Minister of Education, 1957-1969