Institutionalising participatory health governance: lessons from nine years of the National Health Assembly model in Thailand
BMJ Global Health
Improving health governance is increasingly recognised as a key pillar for achieving universal health coverage (UHC). One good practice example of a participatory health governance platform is the National Health Assembly (NHA) in Thailand. This review of 9 years of the Thai NHA process attempted to understand how it works, given the paucity of such mechanisms worldwide. In addition, an in-depth look at its strengths and weaknesses allowed for reflection on whether the lessons learnt from this
... s learnt from this participatory governance model can be relevant for other settings.Overall, the power of stakeholder groups coming together has been impressively harnessed in the NHA process. The NHA has helped foster dialogue through understanding and respect for very differing takes on the same issue. The way in which different stakeholders discuss with each other in a real attempt at consensus thus represents a qualitatively improved policy dialogue.Nevertheless, the biggest challenge facing the NHA is ensuring a sustainable link to decision-making and the highest political circles. Modalities are needed to make NHA resolutions high priorities for the health sector.The NHA embodies many core features of a well-prepared deliberative process as defined in the literature (information provision, diverse views, opportunity to discuss freely) as well as key ingredients to enable the public to effectively participate (credibility, legitimacy and power). This offers important lessons for other countries for conducting similar processes. However, more research is necessary to understand how improvements in the deliberative process lead to concrete policy outcomes.