Health authorities are focusing on “The First 1,000 Days of Life” – from conception to second birthday – in a bid to improve Thais’ wellbeing, unveiling a programme at a conference in Ayutthaya that fits in with the government’s 20-year national strategy.
The first two years are seen as a crucial period for setting the correct course for health throughout an individual’s lifetime.
Department of Health director-general Dr Panpimol Wipulakorn said at the conference’s opening this week that a “Green & Clean Hospital” campaign was also being launched to improve and maintain standards in environmental health and practices at medical facilities.
The Green & Clean Hospital campaign involved five strategies, she said.
They are helping tambon foster environmental health, making sure they have clean drinking water and handle waste safely, improving environmental-health standards and practices at medical facilities, including proper management of infectious waste, supporting provincial efforts to control environmental and health risk factors, and monitoring dust particulates less than 10 microns in diameter, known as PM10.
Panpimol pointed out that the first 1,000 days were essential in the development of neurons in the brain.
She said Regional Health Promotion Centre 4 in Saraburi recently hosted a meeting that drew 400 people to promote the first 1,000 days as well as proper nutrition for mothers and children.
Guidelines were also established for implementing the Green & Clean Hospital locally.
The centre’s director, Dr Sawiwan Phaiprasert, said 10 expectant mothers died in her region between October 2017 and August this year. Four of the deaths were directly linked to childbirth, the rest due to “indirect causes”.
Issues to be resolved, she said, included the fact that many mothers-to-be in her jurisdiction don’t get ante-natal care or receive it too late, and some clinics remain inadequately equipped to screen for risks and otherwise provide good-quality treatment.
Sawiwan said any pregnant woman who encounters health worries must see a doctor.
An October 2017-June 2018 survey on pre-schoolers’ health in the area found that 96.53 per cent of the youngsters were at appropriate stages of development for their ages, she said.
Her office is striving to improve mother and child nutrition and would implement the Green & Clean Hospital policy, Sawiwan said.