Thailand was one of the first lower-middle-income countries to implement universal health insurance coverage, in 2002, and over 99 percent of the population is now covered. But as Thailand transitions to a high-middle-income country, noncommunicable chronic diseases such as diabetes are on the rise, offering new challenges.
Now, a new study by the Boston University School of Public Health researchers and researchers from Chulalongkorn and Mahidol Universities in Bangkok identifies the strengths and weaknesses of diabetes care in Thailand’s universal health system.
Published in the journal PLOS ONE, the study found that the majority of Thai adults with diabetes were never diagnosed, but that most of those who were diagnosed did receive treatment and got the condition under control.
“Our findings highlight both the achievements of universal health care in Thailand and also the opportunities that remain both on a national level and regionally to ensure that people living with diabetes are integrated into care,” says Dr. Andrew Stokes, assistant professor of global health and the study’s corresponding author.
The researchers used data from the 2014 Thai National Health Examination Survey, which included both face-to-face interviews and a physical exam portion that collected blood samples after overnight fasting. Of the 15,663 Thai adults included in the study, 8.8 percent appeared to have diabetes based on their blood samples and/or reporting being treated for diabetes. Of those who appeared to have diabetes, the researchers found that 67.0 percent reported ever being screened for diabetes, 34.0 percent reported being diagnosed, 33.3 percent had been treated, and 26.0 percent had their diabetes under control.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on January 31