Lessons from the Thai Health Promotion Foundation
To facilitate the policy response to noncommunicable diseases in Thailand, parliament adopted the Health Promotion Foundation Act in 2001. This Act led to the establishment of an autonomous government body, the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, called ThaiHealth.
The foundation receives its revenue from a 2% surcharge of excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol. The fund supports evidence generation, campaigns and social mobilization to address noncommunicable disease risk factors, such as tobacco-use, harmful use of alcohol and sedentary behaviour. On average, its annual revenue is 120 million United States dollars (US$).
Some notable ThaiHealth-supported public campaigns are for schools free of sweetened carbonated beverages; alcohol abstinence during three-month Buddhist lent; and nationwide physical activity.
The percentage of people using tobacco decreased from 22.5% in 2001 to 18.2% in 2014. The annual per capita alcohol consumption decreased from 8.1 litres pure alcohol in 2005 to 6.9 litres in 2014. The percentage of the adult population doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes high-intensity aerobic exercise per week, increased from 66.3% in 2012 to 72.9% in 2017.
A dedicated funding mechanism, a transparent and accountable organization, and the engagement of civil society organizations and other government agencies have enabled ThaiHealth to run these campaigns.