Before the year 1991, there was only hospital that provided medical services for the mental retarded persons, it was that located in Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand. The services of this hospital could not cover the whole patients in the country. It was hard for the patients in the rural area to come for treatment at this hospital, especially, the minority groups such as the hill tribe people, the poor people, etc. Most of the patients at that time could not get medical treatment at the early stage of their illness and had no opportunity to develop their life skills that made them encounter with difficulties in their life, both personal and social life.
In the year 1991, the ‘Center for mental retarded persons’ was established in Chiangmai Province, in the northern part of Thailand. This Center provided medical services for mental retarded persons in 9 provinces in the upper northern part of Thailand. Then in the year 1993 this Center had expanded their services to cover all 17 provinces in the northern part of Thailand and also extended their services to cover the children with delayed development such as Autism, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), Cerebral Palsy, Learning Disability, etc. In the year 1994, this Center was renamed as ‘Northen Child Development Center’.
Later, in the year 2004, it was renamed again as ‘Rajanagarindra Institute of Child Development’. The Institute is under the supervision of the Department of Mental Health, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand. Its main responsibility is to be the specialist on child development by providing medical services for the patients and supporting knowledge in this area for other public health facilities, such as health stations, community hospitals and general hospitals of the Ministry of Public Health, Thailand.
At the beginning of the medical services in the year 1994, there was a survey on the needs of the public health personnel who worked in the health stations of the 9 provinces in the upper northern part of Thailand. It was found that the public health personnel paid very much attention to mental health prevention and they expected that their health stations could provide all public health elements for the patients that included prevention,
treatment, rehabilitation, and can also finding a job for mental retarded persons; and they also wanted to
provide training course and support knowledge and materials to the people in their area (Chavala Thiendanu, Samai Sirithongthaworn, Amporn Hayachantha, and Nuttaporn Khruaphan, 1994 as abstract mentioned below).
From this survey, the knowledge of how to screen, assess, and promote children’s development were developed in order to fulfill the needs of the public health personnel. The training courses on this area of knowledge were
also conducted for the public health personnel in the health stations, community hospitals, general hospitals, and also the care givers in the ‘Child Development Center’ in the community, and the tools and materials were also
provided to them as well.