Thailand could be an example of how "health could bring wealth" based on the successful policy of cannabis use for medical treatments, says Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.
Mr Anutin, who is also a deputy prime minister, on Thursday made the remarks during the opening ceremony for a meeting on health and the economy that was part of a five-day Apec health meeting in Bangkok which ends today.
He said the Thai government supports the use of cannabis for medical treatment, adding that proper use of the plant can boost people's health and their wealth.
"In Thailand, we have learnt that health can bring wealth. Not just at the personal level that we all know but at the country level as well," he said. "As the West focuses on solutions on how to improve health care for people, through our cannabis policy the economic opportunity from the emerging industry is endless."
Mr Anutin said that Thailand connects the dots between health and economy, between governments and citizens, and between public and private sectors to create a balanced state between people's health and the economy.
In the last decade, people faced several outbreaks in the region, but their economic impacts were much smaller than that of Covid-19, he added.
The lengthy lockdowns during Covid-19 have led some economies to collapse, while a too relaxed approach and negligence on health issues caused avoidable losses in others, he said.
Mr Anutin said that Covid-19 has taught people it's best to have a good balance between health and the economy.
To save lives, vaccines and medical countermeasures need to be distributed equally to everyone within and across economies.