Thailand One Health University Network
Empowering Village Health Volunteers as Public Health Leaders to Advocate for and Respond to Emerging Disease Outbreaks
Village Health Volunteers (VHVs) have been recognized as the backbone of the health system and play crucial roles in disease surveillance, prevention and control in Thailand. The World Health Organization appraised that VHVs are important contributors in the successful effort of Thailand to slow the transmission of COVID-19. Yet despite their significant contributions, there are approximately 1.4 million VHVs who need additional training in public health skills, particularly in advocacy and effective communication with local communities.
Through the support of the OHW-NG project, THOHUN brought together multidisciplinary experts from member faculties and the Ministry of Public Health of Thailand to design and develop training curriculum to prepare VHVs for effective response to newly emerging disease outbreaks. In 2022, the training curriculum “Advocacy & Response to Emerging Disease Outbreaks by VHVs” was successfully developed. The main contents include Health Literacy and Digital Literacy, Community Health Problem Analysis and Solution Development, Risk Communication and Health Leadership. The curriculum covers e-learning of fundamental knowledge, tools and guidelines for community problem assessment and planning for solutions, community advocacy, risk communication and response to emerging disease outbreaks at community level, community-based practicing on questionnaire survey and investigation for an abnormal public health event or problem, and a self-study VHVs Manual.
In 2023, these e-learning materials and the VHV manual were distributed to Provincial Public Health Offices of Ranong, Surat Thani and Chumphon to promote VHVs education. On 9 March 2023, THOHUN conducted the first batch of onsite training in Ranong Province with a total of 66 expert-level VHVs and Migrant Health Volunteers, including forty-six from Ranong, eight from Surat Thani, and twelve from Chumphon Provinces. At the end of the training, the VHVs demonstrated the ability to identify community health problems, develop plans for community targeted solutions, and apply health and Information Technology literacy learned from the training for community advocacy.
“This training workshop could build up roles for VHVs. It is our opportunity to show our duties of taking care of people in the community. This way we create love and support among people and the communities we live, and create a very good self-conscious awareness. Thank you very much for these good activities. All the speakers and team members were very friendly.” – Voice of trained VHV
After the workshop, THOHUN provided the VHVs in Ranong, Surat Thani and Chumphon with tools and materials used for community problem assessment, activity prioritization and stakeholders’ matrices, and implementation planning templates for community application. The training participants provided their feedback and shared their experiences regarding the knowledge and tools they learned from the workshop via an online communication platform. The positive outcome of the workshop will be a steppingstone for THOHUN to continue empowering VHVs across Thailand in advocacy and promoting effective responses to emerging disease outbreaks.
The Thailand One Health University Network or THOHUN was officially established in August 2012 in Bangkok, Thailand.
The establishment of the network was supported under the Emerging Pandemic Threats program funded by USAID to build regional, national and local One Health capacities for early disease detection, prevention, rapid response and containment, and risk reduction.
The One Health approach is a global strategy for expanding interdisciplinary collaborations and communication in all aspects of health for humans, animals, and the environment.
Building multidisciplinary trainers
THOHUN has created a multidisciplinary group of trainers that can deliver a variety of One Health short courses and mapping workshops, through a training of trainers. THOHUN’s trainers can develop capacities in leadership, technical skills, systems thinking, facilitating/training, and coordinating skills, which are all vital in developing Thailand’s One Health workforce.
THOHUN , together with One Health workforce, SEAOHUN and member universities, is dedicated to the continuous development of OH workforces, both current and future, to strengthen responses to emerging infectious diseases.
Current workforce development
One Health core competency domains for current Thai workforce /government professionals have been identified, which serve as the crucial framework for Thai ministries to define and develop specific core competencies to enhance the capacity of current workforces to respond to outbreaks. Workshops on coordination for rabies response, training health volunteers on One Health, modules on antimicrobial resistance, and many other activities have been developed towards strengthening the capacity of Thailand’s current workforce.
Future workforce development
Among other training platforms, THOHUN developed a field-based One Health core competency teaching platform called THOHUN-TELI, aimed at strengthening the skills of future Thai and regional One Health workforces, through hands-on learning. In 2019, a student One Health camp for rabies control was developed to build core competencies in risk communication, community engagement, and other important skills required for Thai students to respond to outbreaks, using rabies as a model disease.
THOHUN focuses on pre-service workforce training and strengthening outbreak response capacity. It collaboratively works with university partners. THOHUN has comprised 14 universities around the country.
Chiang Mai University* (Faculty of Associate Medical Sciences Faculty of Economics, Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Nursing*, Faculty of Pharmacy, Faculty of Public Health
Faculty of Social Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine*)
Chulabhorn Royal Academy (Princess Chulabhorn College of Medical Science)
Chulalongkorn University (College of Public Health Sciences Faculty of Nursing, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Health Science Technology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Applied Zoology)
Kasetsart University (Faculty of Education, Faculty of Environment, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine Faculty of Veterinary Technology)
Khon Kaen University (Faculty of Associate Medical Sciences Faculty of Dentistry, Faculty of Nursing, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences Faculty of Public Health,
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine)
Mahasarakham University (Faculty of Architecture Urban Design and Creative Arts, Faculty of Informatics, Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Nursing, Faculty of Pharmacy, Faculty of Public Health, Faculty of Veterinary Science)
Mahidol University* (ASEAN Institute for Health Development, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Faculty of Environment and Resource Studies, Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital, Faculty of Nursing Faculty of Public Health, Faculty of Tropical Medicine*, Faculty of Veterinary Science*)
Prince of Songkla University (Faculty of Environmental Management, Faculty of Nursing, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences Faculty of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Science)
Thammasart University (Faculty of Public Health, The School of Global Studies)
Walailak University (Akkhraratchakumari Veterinary College, International College of Dentistry, School of Agricultural Technology, School of Allied Health Sciences, School of Architecture and Design, School of Engineering and Resources School of Informatics, School of Liberal Arts, School of Management, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, School of Pharmacy, School of Political Science and Law School of Public Health, School of Science, Walailak University International College)
Burapha University (Faculty of Public Health, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, Faculty of Abhaibhubejhr Thai Traditional Medicine, Faculty of Geoinformatics, Faculty of Logistics, and Faculty of Education)
Maejo University (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine)
Mae Fa Luang University (School of Health Sciences)
Suranaree University of Technology (Institute of Science, Institute of Agricultural Technology, Institute of Engineering, Institute of Social Technology, Institute of Medicine, Institute of Nursing, Institute of Public Health, Institute of Dentistry, Institute of Digital Arts and Science)
* Founding Universities and Faculties