Global Health & Medicine 2023;5(1):1-4.
Advancing the partnership between Japan and Thailand on global health and UHC: "new normal" approach during COVID-19 pandemic
Miyashita Y, Kato T, Panichkriangkrai W, Wisasa W, Patcharanarumol W
Partnerships, particularly, South-South and Triangular Cooperation play an important role in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Partnership Project for Global Health and Universal Health Coverage (UHC) between Japan and Thailand (the Project) was launched in 2016 as a four-year flagship project for Triangular Cooperation and continued to the second phase in 2020. Participating countries include Asian and African countries who are striving to drive global health and to move towards UHC. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has made coordination of partnerships more difficult. The Project needed to find a "new normal" approach to conduct our collaborative work. Struggling with public health and social measures for COVID-19 has made us more resilient and has increased opportunities to collaborate more closely. In the past year and a half, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Project successfully conducted a number of online activities between Thailand and Japan and with other countries on global health and UHC. Our "new normal" approach led continuing dialogue of networking both at the project implementation and policy levels, focusing on desk-based activities regarding the targets and the objectives of the project and creating a golden opportunity for pursuing a timely second phase. Our lessons learned include as follows: i) Closer prior consultation is required to hold satisfactory online meetings; ii) Effective "new normal" approaches include emphasizing practical and interactive discussions on each country’s priority issues and expanding target participants; iii) Commitment, trust, teamwork, and sharing common goals can enhance and sustain partnerships, especially amid the pandemic.