Govt launches health city model in Nan

Govt launches health city model in Nan

Popular areas are renovated to provide the elderly and disabled under a’ common design’ process

Govt launches health city model in Nan
A chair ramp with handrails is seen at Wat Phumin in Nan’s Muang city. CHAIRITH YONPIAM

The government has kicked off its” Nan Model” initiative aimed at making Nan one of the 10 health and wellness cities in the country. Nan will also be Thailand’s first area that incorporates common design to provide the elderly and disabled with greater access to public spots and tourist destinations in a charge to press for greater diversity.

Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew said Nan is set to become one of the 10 health and wellness places due to its cultures and traditions.

He said Thai people are keeping their eyes on the rise of Nan, adding that additional moving makes are also essential to making the vision happen.

” Everyone must have an opportunity to get diverse hospitality. Nan may be Thailand’s first state to get involved in the Public Health Ministry’s ‘ Blue Zone ‘ policy.

” A general design, or comprehensively pleasant design, may be applied to provide access to all places and services, including tourist attractions, state offices providing a legal service, health services, temples and airports,” said the minister.

Apart from that, Dr Cholnan said there might be an initiative to turn the city into a product, service and medical hub that offers medical products and services for tourists and locals in the future.

A universal design city

Thai Health Promotion Foundation ( ThaiHealth ) CEO Pongthep Wongwatcharapaiboon provided an update on the progress in transforming Nan into a universal city, saying 60–70 % of the targeted locations are still unable to be renovated as they are either historical sites, lesser- known tourist attractions or restricted.

So, there is a need to prioritise them to provide renovation to the most important locations first, he said.

How to make all areas and sectors part of value- inclusive tourism still remains an important question for his organisation.

Dr Pongthep added the opening ceremony of a universal city in Nan a few weeks ago happened due to cooperation between all sectors.

He said ThaiHealth has a role in allowing the elderly and disabled to do activities outside their homes independently and promoting the integration of inclusive design into buildings to facilitate their visits.

” There are many areas in Nan that still need development to provide access to the elderly and disabled,” said the CEO.

” If we can help them to travel happily, they will be less depressed and feel less abandoned. They will be able to form social groups and go anywhere independently.

” This is what society is pushing for. It is a kind society that leaves no one behind”.

ThaiHealth hopes Nan will be a model for other areas throughout Thailand in the future in terms of the use of a universal design.

Pongthep: ‘ Leave no one behind’

Spreading the concept

The first locations to receive renovation using the universal design are Wat Phumin and Wat Suan Tan temples.

Civilisation Foundation for All People president Krisana Lalai said the 400- year- old Wat Phumin is a health- friendly tourist spot infused with a universal design as the slopes in the temple’s area have been upgraded and lifts installed to provide safety and convenience to wheelchair- users during their visits.

He said many families were worried about taking elderly relatives here because of difficulties they might encounter, but today, it is much more convenient for them to visit the temple because of the universal design.

Mr Krisana said his foundation hopes to spread the universal design to all areas of Thailand if possible.

Its short- term goal is to introduce the universal design in about 10 other provinces in the next two or three years.

He said Udon Thani will be the next destination as the northeastern province plans to hold the Udon Thani International Horticultural Expo 2026, which will draw large crowds.

He confirmed every province that embraces the universal design will enjoy economic, social and investment benefits.

Renovate elderly homes

Apart from tourist attractions and public places mentioned above, ThaiHealth also plans to apply the universal design to local homes in Nan in partnership with the Universal Design Centre ( UDC ).

UDC head Asst Prof Wuttigarn Puraprom said the UDC will assess toilets and bedrooms in homes to find a way to improve them as these are the two places where the elderly spend most of their time.

Most problems he has found are due to insufficient light and concrete floors, which can result in the elderly slipping and falling on the floor.

Asst Prof Wuttigarn said the first thing to do is to provide the rooms with more light to improve visibility and then add handrails.

He said the UDC has improved 785 homes in Nan’s Muang district. He said the UDC’s principle was to improve homes by making minimal changes to residents ‘ behaviour.

He said the UDC usually studies residents ‘ behaviour and daily routines before creating development plans.

He said there is no one- size- fits- all strategy that would work with every home because residents have different ways of life.

The areas and places that have been renovated in Nan as part of the initiative include the homes of elderly residents who struggle financially and live alone in the Ban Nam Lom community, religious places and Phra Net Market.

The UDC is looking to expand the Nan Model to 15 other districts in the near future as well.

The population of Nan’s Muang district is 18, 788 people. Out of that, 5, 769 comprise elderly folks, who account for about 30 % of the district’s population. The population of Nan province is 476, 727.

Wuttigarn: Different strategies required