Thailand is paying special attention to women and children by providing them with greater access to affordable health care, including reproductive health care, essential drugs, health promotion, and family planning services.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she believed that equal access to healthcare for all, regardless of gender or race, is a basic element of human rights and security.
The statement was made at the 'Every Woman, Every Child' Dinner, held in New York on 25 September 2012, as part of her trip to the United States for the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Prime Minister Yingluck said that promoting good health for women and children would help support efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals. For these reasons, improving access and quality of health care for all became one of her top priorities to be implemented in her first year as Prime Minister. This commitment has led to the improvement of the one-dollar Universal Health Coverage scheme, which has been Thailand's flagship policy since 2002 and covers over 99 percent of the population. Thailand has also expanded its HIV treatment program to cover all infected persons, in particular, HIV infected pregnant women, to prevent transmission from mother to child.
The Prime Minister said that in order to ensure that all citizens - men, women, and children - are protected at all times, the Thai government has recently introduced a universal emergency health care system that allows lifesaving emergency medical attention at the closest hospital, regardless of each person's health care benefit package.
She explained that Thailand's health care policy provides a strong foundation to promote women empowerment. Her policy on women has been influenced by her own upbringing. She grew up in an entrepreneur family that operated a small cinema in northern Thailand, where her mother would help her father sell movie tickets and collect parking fees. So from a young age, she has been encouraged to work for a living, and being a woman was never an obstacle.
The Prime Minister said that she considers herself very fortunate to have been given these opportunities, which allowed her to pursue her own careers in business and politics. Most importantly, she was able to contribute to building a happy family and making a difference in society. The Government has also launched a nationwide Woman Development Fund to ensure greater access to funding for women to open up opportunities for them to conduct their own businesses. Apart from job creation, this program also provides assistance and consultations to women suffering from abuse and domestic violence.
As for children, the Government has implemented childhood development policy based on the life cycle approach. This program provides the right combination of health care and learning programs at different stages of children's life cycle.
As a woman and a mother, Prime Minister Yingluck said she believe that there is no wish more basic, no task more important, than protecting the health of a child and the mother. As Prime Minister, she wishes to see a healthy world population where everyone has access to quality health care regardless of race or gender.
She also reaffirmed her commitment to the Every Woman Every Child project, initiated by the United Nations Secretary-General.