Corporate social responsibility is not a new idea in Thailand or elsewhere around the world. Some private companies spend millions of baht each year building schools and libraries, digging artesian wells, building roads, and donating computers to needy students. Others may come up with a more creative approach to stand out from the rest.
Green Health Project director Assoc Prof Ajjima Srethaputr.
It was therefore a welcome surprise when five prominent private hospitals under the Bangkok Hospital Group recently launched the "Green Health Project", a concept aimed at making Thailand a healthier society while serving as a matching centre for people wishing to donate medical and healthcare equipment to the needy.
"The project is the biggest ever collaboration for social service of the five brands of private hospital _ Bangkok Hospital, Samitivej, BNH, Phya Thai and Paolo Memorial," said Assoc Prof Ajjima Srethaputr, the project director. "They have come together to promote a healthy lifestyle among Thai people and members of the international community in Thailand through the five aspects of a healthy and balanced lifestyle _ physical health, mental health, medical health care, food and nutrition, and a sense of environmental conservation."
Among the highlights of the project are the Green Health Care & Share, and Green Health @ School campaigns. The former encourages the donation of medical and health care equipment for the sick, the disabled, and the elderly who cannot afford them. The latter focuses on the improvement of health among students in the communities where these hospitals operate. Under the auspices of this project, some schools' first-aid rooms will get upgrades and stocked up with a good supply of medicine and equipment.
"As far as social contribution goes, each of the participating hospitals has run its own projects in the past," said Assoc Prof Ajjima. Bangkok Hospital, for one, established the Vejdusit Foundation some 28 years ago to support medical research and the education of medical personnel as well as to oversee humanitarian and charitable activities. Among the many programmes the foundation supported was the National Youth Bureau's Rak Jai Khun (Love Your Heart) project which invited student groups to compete for HM the King's trophy by creating a health campaign to educate the public. "The project was successfully operated for three consecutive years," added Assoc Prof Ajjima.
A well-known communication expert, Assoc Prof Ajjima was among the prime movers of the prestigious TACT Award, Thailand's first advertising award institution which played a pivotal role promoting creativity and creative production for nearly 30 years from 1976 onwards.
Born in Bangkok, Assoc Prof Ajjima received a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Thammasat University. She furthered her studies in the US, where she received a Bachelor of Economics from West Virginia University and an MBA from Lehigh University. She also attended Stanford Graduate School of Business, California.
Currently, she is the assistant group CEO of Bangkok Dusit Medical Services PLC which operates the Bangkok Hospital Group.
Who is the main driver behind this project?
It's Dr Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth, the group CEO and president of Bangkok Dusit Medical Services Public Company Limited.
Joining him are chief executive officers of the five hospital brands _ Dr Chatree Duangnet, Dr Somsiri Sakolsatayadorn, Dr Prayuth Somprakit, Dr Soontorn Sritha and Att Thongtang.
We launched the project last July 30, but this is an ongoing campaign that covers many facets of our society, particularly the promotion of a healthy lifestyle.
For the general public, there will be the Green Health Centre located in 26 participating hospitals nationwide serving as the information and coordination centre for health promotion activities.
In addition, our 24 Green Health Ambassadors, selected from the medical staff of the five hospital groups, will take part in public relations and health-related campaigns. They will disseminate information in order to promote a better understanding among the public about how to take care of their health in line with the concepts of the five dimensions of good health.
What about the five dimensions of a healthy and balanced lifestyle?
We are aiming at the total wellness of the people. The first dimension is physical health. We want everyone to keep themselves fit by exercising regularly _ 30 minutes a day, four times a week.
Even household chores or frequent movement of your body helps.
Remember always to set aside your time for recreation after work. To be mentally healthy, we must learn to "let go" and meditate. Stress is in fact a self-destructive element we create in our body. Without stress, our physical health will improve. Like an engine, our body needs a check-up, so make sure that you have at least one medical check-up a year. The fourth dimension is food and nutrition. Bear in mind that the top five fatal diseases in our country are diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and cancer _ all related to a bad diet.
And last, but not least, we must take care of the environment. Living in a polluted city is certainly not good for your health. Make a difference by planting more trees and conserving our natural resources.
What about Green Health Care & Share and Green Health @ School?
These are two programmes of the main project. Care & Share is designed to assist patients, the disabled or the elderly who are in dire need of medical equipment and necessary items for their daily life. The Green Health Centre will, in addition to disseminating health information and organising health promotion activities, serve as the matching centre for charitable donors and prospective recipients who need help the most.
Donors may provide used or brand-new equipment as well as cash for the purchase of needed equipment which will be passed on to the specific recipients who have passed careful scrutiny.
On the launch of Green Health Project, there was a long list of generous donors who donated oxygen tanks, walking sticks, wheelchairs, and toilet chairs, just to name a few. And among the very first recipients was Payung Suk-aram, a 79-year-old member of the Rama 9 community who had suffered a stroke, kidney disease and diabetes. A wheelchair was requested for him by the Huay Kwang district office.
Green Health @ School, meanwhile, has just been launched with the Bangkok Hospital Group sponsoring the set-up of Green Health Room or helping upgrade the existing first-aid rooms for needy schools in the community. Certain quality medical supplies and equipment will be sponsored by the group's hospital in the respective community. Work has, to date, already begun at Bangkok Hospital, Bangkok Hospital Hua Hin, Samitivej Hospital, BNH Hospital and all Paolo Memorial Hospitals.
What effects will the AEC have on Thailand's health care business?
The Bangkok Hospital Group is the largest in Southeast Asia or Asean. "Thainess" and Thai hospitality are among our strong selling points. And the country's image as a top tourist destination adds to our advantages. We also have some of the top medical professionals working with us. You can buy the best medical tools anywhere, but foreigners come here because of the expertise of our world-class human resources and the quality of our services.
In the next few years, when the Asean Economic Community takes full effect, I believe more and more professionals will join our teams and more people will come to Thailand for health care and medication.
About the author
Writer: Katewalee Thongnuasuk