Wherever you may find yourself in the world there is always a public health issue or initiative to be discovered. As I set off on my first trip to Asia I was looking forward to identifying the public health issues that Thailand faces and also to seeing the ways that they are promoting public health throughout their communities.
As we boarded our bus at the airport upon arrival I immediately noticed that there was a sign at the front reminding us to fasten our seat belts. I was impressed to see this and it only raised my excitement level as I had my first taste of a positive public health promotion initiative in Thailand.
I got the chance to dig deeper into one of the many challenges that Thailand faces on our very first day in Bangkok as I attended the ChildSafe Workshop. During this workshop we learned about the human trafficking issues that many children in Thailand deal with. I was shocked to learn that nearly 90% of children living in orphanages actually have one or more parents alive and that they are trafficked into orphanages in order to make money off of tourists. During the workshop we were given a pamphlet with 7 things to remember in order to be a Child Safe traveler. I was very impressed by the amount of knowledge that the organization had and by the amount of effort they put into spreading awareness.
I have also been impressed by Thailand’s sexual health promotion on several occasions throughout the trip. As I was buying a chocolate bar at the gas station across the street from our hotel one night I noticed that the register displays contained boxes of condoms rather than the tabloid magazines you commonly find in the United States. I was also happy to hear that at the Chiang Dao school we visited there are comprehensive sexual health education courses taught to all of the students. It seems to me that Thailand is very proactive in their curriculum and that they are doing a great job of providing health information for students.
One final thing that I have noticed during our time traveling throughout different cities is that there are several building dedicated to public health services. I have seen an office for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an office run by the World Health Organization and the teachers at the school visit told us there was a public health community clinic located nearby. I am somewhat surprised, but very glad to see that Thailand seems to have the infrastructure needed to tackle the public health challenges it may be facing.
As we continue our trip I am really looking forward to our visit to the Cabbages and Condoms Restaurant that promotes family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention. Public health problems are inevitable, but awareness and action are necessary to limit their detrimental effects.