The memorable day of Independence for SHARE Thailand

by Fumiko Kudo, Health Project Consultant for SHARE

On May 5, Health and Share Foundation (HSF), outgrown from SHARE Thailand, established itself as an independent, indigenous Thai NGO.

Way back in May 1990, SHARE launched its first, independent overseas health project in Yasothon Province, Isan (North-east Region of the country) just after it started to stand on its own in Japan. I, Fumiko Kudo, under the auspices and cooperation of Dr. Samroon Yangratoke, the then director of CDC 7 (Communicable Disease Control office, Zone 7), entered Ubon Rachathani Province where the CDC head office was situated and I participated in the joint Diarrhea Control Project between CDC 7 and Yasothon Provincial Public Health Office. At that time the Isan region was suffering greatly from diarrheal endemic and Yasothon used to be the epicenter.

I met with Dr. Jimpipat Chongpanya, or more dearly called, Dr. Arkard, for the first time in CDC 7 later that year (1990). Now the first President of HSF, Dr. Arkard graduated from Medical school of Khon Kaen University, which attracts many brilliant young students who wish to engage in serious study on health development. After graduation, he was assigned to a rural hospital in Saimoon District in Yasothon Province and for 5 years he wholeheartedly worked and served for the better health of  rural people. In 1990, he was transferred to CDC 7 in Ubon city and took post as the director of AIDS Center. Since SHARE started HIV/AIDS Project in Amnacharoen Province, our ties and cooperation with Dr. Arkard were significantly strengthened, especially in the areas of training and grass-roots human resources development.

Dr. Arkard and his team in AIDS Center, CDC 7, have seriously tried to improve the knowledge and awareness of health staff in 5 regional provinces on AIDS issues, to conduct training for HIV counseling and to health education/prevention for people in the commercial sex industry. In 1997, as a doctor, he was given the Award of Outstanding Achievement on Health Education by Health Education Professional Association.

He has three goals in his professional life.

 #1. Making Equitable Health Services available to People

In his second semester of junior year of medical school, he participated in ‘Isan Club’, a community voluntary circle, he got involved in building schools and solving the local health problems in remote areas. This experience awakened him to universal health access and education for grass-roots people. In this regard he never lost interest in clinical medicine. After 5 years of clinical service in Saimoon District Hospital, he worked in STD clinic in CDC 7 and in 1999 he served as a consulting doctor in several district hospitals in Yasothon Province. In February 2012, he was promoted to Director of Provincial Health Office of Samuthprakan, which neighbors to Northern Bangkok.

‘Health services for people in the community’ – his utmost interest is always oriented to the people’s welfare.

 #2. Teaching Health Workers and Educating People

From 1997 to 98, he studied and got the degree of Master of Primary Health Care Management at AIHD (ASEAN Institute for Health Development), Mahidol University. From 2003 to 04, he taught Epidemiology, Health Management, Health Economy, Basic Medical Science and Health Promotion at Rachapat University in Ubon city. Dr. Arkard has a strong sense of devotion and willingness to share his rich knowledge and experience with people and educate people.

#3. Support for newly established NGO, Health and SHARE Foundation(HSF)

Dr. Arkard, while contributing greatly to SHARE Thailand’s AIDS project implementation in Ubon and Amnacharoen for the past 22 years, he also learned a lot from SHARE in this two-way process. He kindly says that he wants to support HSF while he himself absorbs many things from HSF’s rich experience.

In the private lives, Dr. Arkard and Ms. Ael, his wife, have one son and two daughters. Ms. Ael is a registered nurse. She used to get up as early as 5 o’clock every morning and go to the distant health center, while raising 3 children. She always reassured her husband that she would take good care of their children and he could concentrate on his medical mission without worrying about the kids. However, there was a time when the couple’s elder son, Komkyo, who used to be crazy about the cartoon hero Ultra-man, looked his father rather critically, because he grew up seeing her mother taking up all the household chores and the burden of child rearing. “My Dad is like a phantom. He is always absent during daytime and comes back home only late at night.”  But she repeated to say to her son, “My dear boy, your father is genuinely a wonderful person and I respect him from the bottom of my heart. That’s why I always support him.”

All his children, including Komkyo, now studying PhD course in UK as a

Thai government-sponsored foreign student, as well as his two daughters, are

now very proud of their father who tries to support the new foundation.

His wife Ael, while busy every day with consultation at the clinic and health

education for people with HIV/AIDS and taking care of two daughters, continue to help her husband support newly founded HSF as its president.

It took 4 years to prepare HSF for finally taking off the ground. Most of the    board members and advisors of HSF are none other than those who have supported one way or the other SHARE Thailand for 22 long years.

There will be a lot of challenges and difficulties waiting for Cherry, who is the manager of the newly born HSF, and her staffers in terms of project activities, fundraising, accounting, management and public relations, etc. But they have a strong NGO spirit. They also have a tenacious commitment to support the better health of people in their community. With these assets on their side, which give them the source of joy and motivation beyond monetary value, we are confident that they will grow, flourish and sustain the effective activities with their community.