Revitalizing Thailand’s Community Health Impact Assessment

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Community Health Impact Assessment (CHIA) has long been conducted in Thailand. The methodology is social norm and belief oriented. We believe in interconnectedness and pay respect to our ancestor’s spirit and nature. We consider natural resources as Divine God such as Mother Earth, Water God, Rice God and etc. Some part of Thailand, for example northeast, has its own traditional rule that no one dare to violate because it may cause disaster. With these beliefs, whenever a community initiates activities, villagers will discuss until all sides satisfy. The process of discussion invites villagers to participate in policy decision making at their community.  

Since Thailand has geared up to modernization, the social norms and beliefs of the community have been devalued. High and complicated technology has replaced local wisdom. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been introduced with a scientific base. Hence spiritual belief of the community has been gradually ignored. It is led to conflict in communities.

The year 2007 - present, after the National Health Act has been enforce CHIA revitalize as a tool for healthy public policy toward healthy community.  More than 30 communities who impact or may be impact from projects/policies such as mining, industrial, energy, water management etc. has conducted CHIA. The process and methodology has been improved. The beginning is community history, development in the part and the future reviewing. Drawing their vision and goal, define their health and determinant of health. Study about project or policy that impact or may be impact on their health. Using both social and scientific techniques for collect data. Design social communication both insight and outsight community and also influence to policy decision maker.  The important thing is all of step need to design as a continuous informal learning process more than formal.

The big CHIA’s challenge is meaningful in local and national public policy process especially decision step.

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