HEALTH AND RIGHTS PROMOTION PROJECT

HEALTH AND RIGHTS PROMOTION PROJECT

PROJECT BACKGROUND

Northeastern Thailand shares geographical borders with the Lao People’s Democratic Republic marked by the Mekong River, which people have traditionally crossed through natural channels instead of formal border checkpoints. Irregular migration has led to statelessness and lack of registration, which limits these groups of people in terms of access to public services including law enforcement and healthcare as well as their opportunities for work, education, property ownership, and travel. This, in turn, creates complex problems of poverty, disability, illness, and discrimination that affect children born to stateless or unregistered people.

There are few organizations working to support stateless people in the region, so in 2019, the Health and Share Foundation (HSF) entered into a partnership with the Algot Enevoldsen Foundation to implement a five-year health and rights promotion project, beginning with a needs assessment survey in Khemarat Subdistrict, Khemarat District and Palan Subdistrict, Na Tan District. The survey listed 650 people without registration in Khemarat subdistrict and 313 people without registration in Palan subdistrict.

PROJECT BACKGROUND

Northeastern Thailand shares geographical borders with the Lao People’s Democratic Republic marked by the Mekong River, which people have traditionally crossed through natural channels instead of formal border checkpoints. Irregular migration has led to statelessness and lack of registration, which limits these groups of people in terms of access to public services including law enforcement and healthcare as well as their opportunities for work, education, property ownership, and travel. This, in turn, creates complex problems of poverty, disability, illness, and discrimination that affect children born to stateless or unregistered people.

There are few organizations working to support stateless people in the region, so in 2019, the Health and Share Foundation (HSF) entered into a partnership with the Algot Enevoldsen Foundation to implement a five-year health and rights promotion project, beginning with a needs assessment survey in Khemarat Subdistrict, Khemarat District and Palan Subdistrict, Na Tan District. The survey listed 650 people without registration in Khemarat subdistrict and 313 people without registration in Palan subdistrict.

PROJECT SITE

Ubonratchathani Province, Thailand

 

  • Khemarat Subdistrict, Khemarat District
  • Palan Subdistrict, Na Tan District

TARGET GROUPS

Stateless People

Unregistered People

Vulnerable Families

Stateless People

Unregistered People

Vulnerable Families

SHAREHOLDERS

Local Government

Local Businesses

Schools

Hospitals & Clinics

Community Leaders

Local Government

Local Businesses

Schools

Hospitals & Clinics

Community Leaders

PROJECT OBJECTIVES

To improve the quality of life of vulnerable Thai and Lao communities in Ubon Ratchathani — many of whom currently have no documentation — by providing improved access to healthcare & rights and building stronger communities to help themselves.

EXPECTED OUTCOMES

Better health: Target groups make
healthier lifestyle choices and have
improved access to and utilization of
healthcare services.

Stronger communities: Target groups
enjoy greater social acceptance from the
wider community and receive support
from their peers and others.

Greater access to rights: Target groups
secure documentation, receive social
welfare support, and are motivated to earn
property ownership.

Better government policy and support:
Key stakeholders have more information
and knowledge related to target groups
and cooperate in terms of policymaking
and implementation.

PROJECT ACTIVITIES

1.  Community organizing and capacity building

From 2020–2021, the Foundation worked to establish a Community Action Group (CAG) in each of the 35 villages. Community leaders received training on healthcare issues, human rights, as well as cultural sensitivities (especially between Thai and Lao communities). While most of the current leaders are Thai, we are also working to onboard more Lao volunteers for a more inclusive representation of our beneficiaries. In 2023, HSF also introduced caregiver training and teacher training to Thai and Lao beneficiaries on basic health and sexual reproductive health.

2.  Health screening and campaigns

HSF conducts periodic health screenings in partnership with local hospitals at both the community level as well as for service workers for early detection of critical health issues, such as diabetes and HIV. Our health awareness campaigns and mobile clinics encourage help-seeking behaviors among local communities by tackling practical and social barriers to accessing formal healthcare services, such as stigmatization, costs, and travel distance.

3.  Documentation and rights access

HSF supports eligible individuals to apply for ID cards to access healthcare and civil rights, which often require traveling to Khon Kaen Province for DNA testing and civil registration. In cooperation with the Ministry of Justice’s Central Institute of Forensic Science, we’ve established a genetic storage unit at Sunpasitthiprasong Hospital in Ubon Ratchathani. This allows people with status issues to receive DNA testing without traveling long distances as well as expands the government’s capacity to offer free DNA tests for civil registration.

4. Government policy support and network building

From 2022-2023, we successfully established a rights network between multiple parties actively working in northeastern Thailand, which provides provincial-level mechanisms structured via two memoranda of understanding (MOUs), as follows:

The first MOU formalizes collaboration between the HSF, Dreamlopments Foundation (DLP), and Ubon Ratchathani Provincial Health Office (UBON-PHO) on providing alternative health coverage through the DLP-operated Migrant Fund (M-Fund) to migrants, stateless persons, and impoverished border communities, who can seek treatment at hospitals under the administration of UBON-PHO. Under the MOU, the HSF provides relevant information to migrant communities and refers potential beneficiaries to the DLP and M-Fund

The second MOU formalizes collaboration between the HSF, Sunpasitthiprasong Hospital, and local branches of the Department of Local Administration, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, National Health Security Office, and Office of the Basic Education Commission. The agreement aims to overcome systemic and budgetary obstacles to basic healthcare and rights access among stateless people by facilitating the objectives of each signatory party and developing a civil registry for stateless people in Ubon Ratchathani.

ACHIEVEMENTS

A key achievement has been the establishment of a working referral system led by 273 trained community leaders, where each CAG across the 35 villages identifies and screens relevant cases. The cases are referred to the Foundation to provide follow-up support:

In health-related cases:

HSF will accompany the person to the hospital to access treatment, covering the costs of any critical medical intervention, and performing follow-up visits.

As a result:

1,120
people

have been screened
and referred for
initial health checks

267
people

gained access to
healthcare coverage
through Thailand’s
gold card system

360
people

gained access to
healthcare coverage
through the
nonprofit Migrant
Fund (M-Fund)

100% of
children

under 5 years old
have received
vaccinations

1,120 people

have been screened and referred for initial health checks

267 people

gained access to healthcare coverage through Thailand’s gold card system

360 people

gained access to healthcare coverage through the nonprofit Migrant Fund (M-Fund)

100% of children

under 5 years old have received vaccinations

In social welfare cases:

HSF will connect the person with local welfare authorities to access any support they’re eligible for and will provide funding for food, scholarships, and household supplies.

As a result:

124
families

received food packs

98
youths

who were unregistered or otherwise disadvantaged received scholarships to continue their formal education

50 migrant
households

received home &
toilet repairs

12
families

received livelihood
support

5 occupation
groups

formed and received livelihood support to reduce household expenses

124 families

received food packs

98 youths

who were unregistered or otherwise disadvantaged received scholarships to continue their formal education

50 migrant households

received home & toilet repairs

12 families

received livelihood support

5 occupation groups

formed and received livelihood support to reduce household expenses

In rights cases:

HSF will arrange for DNA testing to be done, support the paperwork and application process, and follow up on the registration process

As a result:

267
people

received migrant
white cards

53
people

received national ID
cards

110
people

are undergoing civil
registration

267 people

received migrant white cards

53 people

received national ID cards

110 people

are undergoing civil registration

As a result of this project, the communities have never been stronger. We continue to empower CAGs to operate independently while holding child protection workshops for teachers and case study workshops for officials and community leaders.

The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security has established Ubon Ratchathani as a pilot documentation hub with a database to track the status of undocumented persons, localized DNA testing centers, a multi-stakeholder task force, and a fully transparent process.