RoLD Virtual Forum Series: Living with COVID-19 kicks off

RoLD Virtual Forum Series: Living with COVID-19 kicks off

First episode is “How to Safely Lift Lockdown”

Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ) has launched RoLD Virtual Forum, a series of online discussions, whereby public-health experts, researchers and prominent figures from the private sector come together to exchange opinions and explore solutions/innovations in the face of the pandemic. The first episode of RoLD Virtual Forum Series: Living with COVID-19 addressed the theme of “how to safely lift lockdown”, focused on how to adjust people’s behaviors to the New Normal and promote communities’ role in public-healthcare and self-regulation.

Prof. Dr. Kittipong Kittayarak, executive director of Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ), opened the online forum by updating everyone about the COVID-19 situation in Thailand and underlining the possibility that people might need to embrace the New Normal. He suggested that the reopening of cities would be safe if works in three following areas were done. The first area involves studying and designing individuals’ behaviors so that people can live with COVID-19. The second area is to develop screening systems that can be implemented at community level as a means to ease hospitals’ burden. The third area is to have a modern tracking system that allows everyone to assess COVID-19 risks on their own and enables doctors to know exactly where the risky ones are.

Asst. Prof. Dr. Thanee Chaiwat, director of Chulalongkorn University’s Center for Behavioral and Experimental Economics, told the forum that the centre’s research found most Thais had complied with public-health authorities’ preventative measures against COVID-19. According to the findings, the majority of Thais have had positive attitudes towards health authorities and have strictly followed the government’s advice. The research, moreover, found that all groups of Thais, including marginal groups such as the urban poor, rural people and people living in southern border provinces, know about COVID-19 and preventative measures. Members of marginal groups have positive attitudes towards the measures, too. However, their compliance may not be at the same level as those in other groups because of economic conditions. The research, in particular, found that at the urban poor’s home, residents outnumbered bedrooms. Given such findings, the urban poor definitely have difficulty practicing social distancing. If they become patients under investigation, they will have no room for isolation.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chanuantong Tanasugarn, dean of Mahidol University’s Faculty of Public Health, recommended that village health volunteers be empowered and assigned a proper role. Recognising their remarkable contributions in the control of COVID-19 to date, he trusted that they would play a crucial role during the easing of lockdown and help communicating with rural communities to promote the right understanding of the disease.

Regarding accessible technology and innovations for the public, Somphot Ahunai and team from the private sector have created “MorChana Application”. This mobile app enables its users to register check-ins at each place for the purpose of tracking COVID-19 trails and assessing the risk of contracting the disease from each place by themselves. Such app is developed in hopes that it will make people safer when going to public places.

Sunit Shrestha from Change Fusion, which presents social innovations, suggested that solutions be developed from his institute’s Operating based on open data, this website facilitates the delivery of aids to hospitals in need.He added that the government would need to assure the public that after the lockdown was lifted and people go back to work, there would be no new COVID-19 infections. According to him, efforts must also be made to engage individuals, families and communities in keeping people alert, because people should not lower their guard at all.

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