Thailand has a long history of rigorous control and surveillance of drinking-water quality especially in its major towns and cities.
Despite access to improved sources of drinking-water being estimated at 98 percent nationwide, the Ministry of Public Health acknowledges that acute diarrhea still remains a crucial public health problem in the country.
To address this problem, WE International supported the MoPH and WHO in a joint review of drinking-water safety programs and practices.
The Metropolitan Waterworks Authority and Provincial Waterworks Authority participated actively. The exercise was conducted over an extended period and consisted of a desk-top review of safe-water policies and programs among the principal water sector stakeholders, stakeholder interviews focusing on their capacity for safe-water management and the status of water safety plans (WSP’s) in Thailand’s principal water supply systems, and site visits to selected systems to review the actual implementation of WSP policies and programs.
The findings of a separate WHO-supported external audit of MWA’s water safety program were also incorporated into the review. The joint review gave high marks to MWA and PWA for their safe drinking-water management practices while making important recommendations for improvements to reduce risk of waterborne disease.
The joint review found that the majority of Thai consumers are served by small systems operated by local government bodies or community managed systems and that surveillance and control of drinking-water quality is most in need of strengthening in such systems.
It recommended that MoPH focus its efforts on small water systems. The Ministry has already taken a number of initiatives to improve drinking-water quality, including the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) on Water Quality Management for Local Water Supplies, an Environmental Health Accreditation (EHA) Program, and others.
The SOP already contains some elements of WSP concepts. The joint review recommended that DOH revise the SOP with a view towards bringing it more in line with WSP practices and enforcing its application through the EHA program.