27 JAN 2021

19.00 – 20.30 hrs. (BKK)

SITE 3: Community Immunity without Vaccines

Location : Nan Province

People around the world are waiting for the vaccine to immunize against COVID-19, which is still a far dream for people in remote areas. However, Nan residents have created their way of living as immunity to tackle COVID-19 even though Nan has various ethnic groups, including Hmong, Khamu, Thin, Mien, and Mlabri. Thailand has been recognized as one of the best countries in COVID-19 management. Based on the Joint Intra-Action Review of the Public Health Response to COVID-19 in Thailand by WHO, risk communication and community engagement are the components of one of the nine pillars of the national response driving the country successful. A strong engagement of people in the community in response to the pandemic works as an immunity to save the community from the disease. Nan is one of a few provinces in Thailand where there is no report of COVID-19 infection. Rapid responses with good cooperation from all stakeholders in the community have been practiced such as 14-days of local quarantine, screening of risk groups, wearing masks in public and social distancing regulation. Community rules based on their culture have been mutually set to prevent COVID-19 by people in the community. Public communication about the disease and how to be safe raised people awareness and compliance with the rules. Community leaders and village health volunteers are significant persons to run all these activities with partial financial support from the community fund. The success in Nan province is not only in prevention of COVID-19, but also recovery of villagers’ income caused by COVID-19. Nan’s economy is based mainly on agriculture. Fertile land with good irrigation supported by the Royal Initiative Project has been opened for villagers to grow vegetables in an organic way. These organic vegetables could not be sold as usual when the country has been locked down due to the pandemic. The sufficiency economy philosophy that is deeply planted in the community helps them to overcome the challenge. The villagers harvest those vegetables for their food and share them with neighbors. The bond of people in the community based on the sufficiency economy philosophy leads people to live their life in a simple and self-reliant way. They share and help each other, especially the vulnerable groups with compassionate love. The elderly of various ethnic groups usually earn income from selling the embroidery of their indigenous costumes to tourists. Since the pandemic, no tourists come to the community. The village heads help these elderly sell their embroidered indigenous costumes online instead of onsite. “Leave no one behind” reflects a strong community engagement that play an important role as immunity of the community. In the virtual site visit, participants will learn from Nan’s experience of strong community engagement to tackle COVID-19 and how they live their life by the sufficiency economy philosophy.