Department of Health, Ministry of Public Health, in collaboration with Nestlé (Thai) Ltd., has recognized and awarded certificates to 13 exceptional communities that took part in the “13 Weeks, 13 Health Missions” program. The program encourages Thais to adopt healthy behaviors by focusing on four key areas: reducing the consumption of sugar, fat, and sodium; increasing physical activity levels; consuming appropriate portion sizes; and including essential nutrients in their diets. By successfully completing 13 health missions over a period of 13 weeks, 130 communities across the country have demonstrated positive measurable behavioral changes.
Dr. Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, Director-General of the Department of Health, The Ministry of Public Health, said, “Nowadays, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are leading to an increasing number of deaths for Thais, accounting for 73% of all premature deaths. The most prevalent chronic non-communicable diseases in Thailand are diabetes and high blood pressure, which are primarily caused by lifestyle behaviors such as a lack of exercise and consuming food that is too sweet, too salty, or has high fat. The Department of Health, specifically The Health Literacy and Communication Promotion Division, has a mission of overseeing the health promotion and environmental health system to ensure the well-being of Thais. It aims to promote health literacy and encourage people to access and utilize information and services to improve their own health and the health of those around them. Consequently, our primary focus has always been on promoting accurate knowledge and understanding among Thais, enabling them to make appropriate changes to their health behaviors through various cooperative programs. The Department of Health collaborated with Nestlé to implement the 13 Week, 13 Health Missions program to encourage and promote healthy behaviors among people in the community so that they can consistently incorporate these behaviors into their daily lives.”
Ms. Salinla Seehapan, Corporate Affairs Director, Nestlé (Thai) said, “With over 130 years of operating in Thailand, Nestlé is committed to promoting sustainable wellbeing for Thais. As the Good food, Good life company, Nestlé offers nutritious, tasty products that are good for Thais' health and wellness. We believe that food makes a significant contribution to healthy living, so proper food selection and being active every day are the pillars of sustainable good health.”
“For the 13 Weeks, 13 Health Missions program, our goal is to raise awareness and encourage the adoption of healthy habits including better eating and active lifestyles. Leveraging our expertise in nutrition, health, and wellness, we aim to provide easily implementable missions that promote healthy habits daily. In partnership with the Health Literacy and Communication Promotion Division, the Department of Health, and community service units, Nestlé’s objective is to improve the health of Thais. We have effectively engaged the 130 communities participating in the program, providing them with health tips and empowering experiences such as learning to make informed choices using the ‘Healthier Choice Logo’ to select the right products. As a result, these communities have adopted sustainable health practices, making them a part of their regular routines even after the completion of the program,” he said.
The 13 Weeks, 13 Health Missions program for 2023 has been a resounding success, with positive behavioural changes by 80% of the over 3,900 participants, leading to their improved health. These changes included opting for drinking water or beverages with less sugar, incorporating vegetables into at least two meals per day, engaging in a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise per day, and regularly consuming milk or calcium-rich beverages. Notably, 97 communities out of the 130 communities involved in the program observed a reduction of at least 5% in weight or a decrease of at least one inch in waist circumference among those participating.
Ms. Kemnipa Wongchinda, “Ruampon Kontonbaab” Club, Surat Thani Provincial Public Health Office, a community participating in the program, said, “I am very impressed with this program as it serves as a starting point for community members to adopt healthy behaviours. Not only have I personally witnessed an improvement in my own health habits—I also took the initiative to recommend this program to family members who are not yet involved. For instance, I encourage them to exercise together and avoid indulging in sugar, fat, and sodium, which leads to a reduction in unhealthy eating behaviors. I would like to thank the Health Literacy and Communication Promotion Division, Department of Health, and Nestlé (Thai) Ltd. for spearheading such an exceptional initiative. This program exemplifies a model activity that empowers participants to positively transform their health behaviors. It is also practical, making it very easy to implement and adopt among friends and others in the community. Most significantly, participants are rewarded as an incentive for accomplishing their objectives and experiencing positive physical changes. The program provides health promotion equipment to the community and expedites access to facilities for both staff and people in the community to assess their health status. Notably, this program not only addresses environmental management but also serves as a catalyst for behavioral changes and cultivating health literacy, ensuring the wellbeing of the present working generation as they transition into healthy seniors. It epitomizes the essence of health knowledge.”
The success of the 13 Weeks, 13 Health Missions program was achieved through a collaborative effort by both the private and public sectors. Their shared commitment is to create well-rounded and healthy communities that benefit everyone. A crucial aspect of this success was obtaining cooperation from community leaders and all participants who acknowledge the importance of maintaining good health and sharing expert knowledge with their families and the community, working hand-in-hand to build a society that is both healthy and sustainable.