Locally Driven Action in Pandemic Control: The Case of Khon Kaen Province, Thailand.

AuthorLaochankham, Sirisak

The COVID-19 pandemic (1) has been cause for alarm for nations around the globe. Public health policies to control the epidemic have been formulated in all countries. The success of their implementation, however, differs from country to country and has no relation to the level of socio-economic development. (2) For example, Thailand, a country which ranks lower on development indicators and medical technology than the United States and the United Kingdom, has fared much better in containing the spread of the disease. (3) This article attempts to describe the processes local governments used in Thailand's Khon Kaen Province to control the spread of the coronavirus in the first six months of the pandemic. The characteristics of this process were determined through interviews with provincial administrators, district and local officials, village headmen, as well as village health volunteers. Secondary data were gathered through the analysis of orders and announcements issued by the national government and provincial authorities. Through these steps, the article identifies five key factors that enabled the Khon Kaen government to successfully contain the spread of the virus.

Strong National Leadership

Soon after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Thailand on 13 January 2020, (4) Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha established the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA). The Centre disseminated information to the Thai people through multiple channels and began efforts to raise awareness of the danger posed by the virus. (5) At the provincial level, the responsibility for tackling the pandemic rested with each province's Communicable Disease Committee (CDC) headed by its provincial governor. (6)

The CDC met to set guidelines and oversee all actions to control communicable diseases within the province. The committee also established a procedure for receiving regular reports on the local COVID-19 situation and passing this information up to the central government so that it could establish a picture of the national situation and to communicate it to the public on a daily basis. Drawing on past experiences with contagious diseases, Thailand had already established a system through which the central government could initiate policies and work effectively with regional and local authorities to respond promptly to pandemic outbreaks. However, local authorities did not simply wait for directions from the central government before taking action. Instead, as soon as the outbreak began in Thailand, authorities in Khon Kaen started to draw up plans and were prepared to respond to the pandemic within their jurisdiction. (7)

Strong Intergovernmental Collaboration

At the start of the pandemic in mid-January 2020, Thai administrators at all levels became fully aware of its seriousness. Indeed, local officials realized that this was a deadly situation and wasted no time in taking strong measures to protect the lives of their residents. The measures were in accordance with the Emergency Decree issued by the national government in late March: to restrict access to public venues during specified times; to control certain locations where there was a high risk of transmission; and to require people to wear masks in public places. (8) In...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT