Moving the mountain towards universal health coverage in Thailand


IGHI host special guest lecture with general practitioner and public health policy advocate Dr Suwit Wibulpolprasert.

Staff and students gathered on 14th September for a special guest lecture by general practitioner and public health policy advocate Dr Suwit Wibulpolprasert on universal health coverage in Thailand.  

The event was jointly hosted by the Institute of Global Health Innovation and their new colleagues from IDSI

Watch the full recording of the event above. 

Talk abstract

How do you tackle the political economy challenges of universal health coverage (UHC)? Health reforms are never easy even at the best of times, as the rhetoric around Obamacare in the US presidential elections and in the UK around so-called “7-day NHS” demonstrates. Often politicised and contested among the many actors in the health system, health reforms are ultimately a matter of life-and-death for citizens, especially when healthcare coverage for the entire population is at stake.

Thailand is frequently hailed as a role model in the world of global health development, being a middle-income country that has achieved universal access to affordable quality healthcare. Millions of Thais have been protected from medical impoverishment, while spending less than 6% of its total GDP on health. It has had universal access to antiretrovirals since 2003 and most recently eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV. What key factors enabled Thailand to move the seemingly unmovable mountain blocking its path to progressive and financially sustainable UHC? Dr Suwit Wibulpolprasert will share the strategy of  “the triangle that moves the mountain” (TTMM): how  three powers, i.e., power of wisdom, political power and social power, came together to enable sustainable systems change, and what this means for global health development in the times of Zika and the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Speaker biography - Dr Suwit Wibulpolprasert

Dr Suwit Wibulpolprasert is a general practitioner and a public health policy advocate. He worked on various issues, for example, human resources for health; health economics; disease surveillance control; pharmaceuticals; global health. He served as civil servants in rural, regional, and central offices of the Thai Ministry of Public health until retirement in 2013, at the highest government official rank as the senior adviser on Disease Control. He has been a board member of the National Health Security Board, the sin tax based Thai Health Promotion Foundation, the Health Systems Research Institute and the National Science and Technology Development Agency.

Dr Suwit has represented Thailand in many global forums such as the World Health Assembly and its Executive Board, the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board, the Global Fund board, and is a board member of the Imperial College-led international Decision Support Initiative (iDSI). He is the leader and founder of many private foundations in Thailand, e.g. the Rural Doctor Foundation, the International Health Policy Program Foundation (IHPF), the Health Intervention and Technology Assessment Foundation (HITAF), the Healthy Society Creation Foundation, the Human Research Promotion Foundation and the Road Safety Policy Foundation. 

Dr Suwit also ran a TV program for 15 years, a live radio program for 10 years and published more than 100 articles and books in Thai and English. 


Jo Seed

Jo Seed
Institute of Global Health Innovation

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