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Anjalee Cohen

Apr 29, 2021

Tales of Unsung Heroes--How Thailand’s Village Health Volunteers Helped Combat the COVID-19 Pandemic

A Discussion with Anjalee Cohen

SSEAC Stories 2021

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On 13 January 2020, Thailand confirmed the first known case of COVID-19 outside of China. As one of the world's most popular tourism destinations, with the majority of its travellers coming from China, this news came as no surprise. One year on, COVID-19 cases and related deaths have remained remarkably low in Thailand, and the country’s management of the pandemic has been hailed as a striking success. So what's the secret behind Thailand's COVID-19 response?

Dr Anjalee Cohen joined Dr Natali Pearson to explore the many factors that have contributed to Thailand’s success in managing COVID-19 thus far, including the country’s long history of public healthcare, the overturning of medical elitism, the influence of certain cultural practices, and the critical role played by Thailand’s village health volunteers.

Anjalee Cohen is a senior lecturer in the anthropology department at the University of Sydney. She joined the department in 2010 following research positions at the Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney, and the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales. She specialises in medical anthropology and Northern Thailand. She has published on youth mental healthcare experiences in Australia, methamphetamine use among northern Thai youth, as well as northern Thai youth subcultures, including violent youth gangs. She is author of Youth Culture and Identity in Northern Thailand: Fitting in and sticking out (Routledge 2020), which explores how young people in urban Chiang Mai construct a sense of community and identity at the intersection of global capitalism, national ideologies and local culture. Her current research focuses on the role and success of Thailand’s village health volunteers in preventing and controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information or to browse additional resources, visit the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre’s website: www.sydney.edu.au/sseac.

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Natali Pearson

Dr Natali Pearson is Curriculum Coordinator at the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, a university-wide multidisciplinary center at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her research focuses on the protection, management and interpretation of underwater cultural heritage in Southeast Asia.
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