UNICEF and Ministry of Public Health launch innovative platform to protect vulnerable children from violence in Thailand
The Primero platform helps the social service workforce support children in need of care and protection
BANGKOK, 10 March 2022 – The Regional Health 8th Office, Ministry of Public Health and UNICEF signed an agreement to launch Primero, an innovative web platform for case management, in an Udon Thani Provincial hospital. With Primero, social workers will be able to better respond to cases of violence, abuse and neglect by providing timely and quality support to vulnerable children and families.
Currently used in more than 40 countries and territories, the Primero web platform is a digital public good that aims to facilitate case management for the social service workforce. The platform provides user-friendly digital forms and clear workflows to assist social workers with managing and documenting cases, from identification and registration, to assessment, case planning, referrals and transfers and case closure.
Case management involves working with children and families to plan, process and monitor services and support for vulnerable children in need of care and protection. This involves navigating through a complicated and often disconnected set of services and support available within and outside of the hospital.
Primero will support social workers in the Udon Thani Provincial hospital in their case management role by moving documenting processes online and linking them with the hospital’s information system on patients and services. This will ensure case management processes are more efficient than in the slower, paper-based system and can meet the needs of children more fully, so children can be better protected and families better supported.
With timely information on violation patterns and risk factors, social workers can help families detect early signs of violence and prevent serious cases. For example, information on children identified as at-risk of violence and abuse by Thailand’s innovative Child Shield system will be transferred to Primero, which will recommend preventative actions provided by One Stop Crisis Centres in hospitals and monitor the results to prevent further risks.
“Too many children are at risk of falling through the cracks when referred from one service provider to another due to a lack of social workers and efficient and user-friendly tools for providing timely and quality support,” said Kyungsun Kim, UNICEF Representative for Thailand.
“That is why UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Public Health’s launch of the innovative Primero platform in Udon Thani Province with the plan for expansion across Thailand in the future – to use technology as a force for good for coordinating critical support to vulnerable children. No child should live in fear or be left behind,” she said.
“The Ministry of Public Health aims to improve the child protection system to better protect against violence, sexual abuse and exploitation. The Primero platform will help integrate services available within the ministry and between the ministry and other agencies,” said Dr. Paramet Kingko, Director of the Regional Health 8th Office.
“Primero will help improve Thailand’s child protection system. The platform, which facilitates case management, will not only support referrals and transfers of children in need of protection but also help monitor, identify and assess those facing risks. This platform can be readily applied to facilitate the new normal and ways of working during and after COVID-19,” said Dr. Chanvit Tharathep, former Inspector General of the Regional Health 8th Office, who initiated the collaboration between the ministry and UNICEF.
Violence against children is widespread in Thailand, with 58 per cent of children under 14 facing physical and psychological punishment at home according to the 2019 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS 6) by the National Statistical Office and UNICEF. Many cases go unreported, and the situation has only worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic with children remaining at home and isolated from support.
Violence has devastating and lifelong impacts on children’s well-being, learning and development. In addition to physical injuries, it affects their brain development, impairs their ability to learn and socialize and puts them at higher risk of mental health disorders, depression, anxiety, self-harm, risky behaviour and suicide.
With only four social workers for every 100,000 people in Thailand, the urgency for supporting overworked and under-resourced social workers in their case management role is more acute than ever. The Ministry of Public Health and UNICEF plan to expand the adoption of Primero to other hospitals in the country, so that every child who has faced violence, abuse and neglect can receive comprehensive services, delivered through an efficient, child-centred case management process.
Thailand has taken other key steps to better protect children, including setting up One Stop Crisis Centres in every district hospital to provide treatment and support for children facing violence and abuse. UNICEF is currently working to facilitate case management processes that link these centres with other social services, including the 24-hour hotline 1300 and provincial shelters for children and families.
The planned launch of Primero in other hospitals will help more children across Thailand receive efficient and comprehensive social services as well as care and protection.
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