Birth rate plunge triggers health minister’s urgent action plan

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The national birth rate in Thailand is on a steep decline, prompting urgent action from the country’s Minister of Public Health Chonlanan Srikaew. He plans to push fertility to the forefront of the country’s national agenda, aiming for swift implementation within 100 days as part of the ministry’s “quick win” policies.

Chonlanan revealed after Friday’s executive meeting that the current birth rate is significantly lower than the ideal rate of 2.1 per 100,000 population. At present, Thailand is witnessing only 1.5 births per 100,000, resulting in a sizable deficit. Instead of the expected 2 million newborns each year, Thailand is seeing only about 500,000 births each year.

This decline in fertility can potentially lead to a decrease in the working-age adult population and a 20% rise in the number of senior citizens. This demographic shift could classify Thailand as a “super-aged” society, Chonlanan cautioned.

“The low birth rate will take time to solve and it will be proposed that premier list it as a national agenda item.”

As part of the proposed solutions, the ministry plans to recommend that the government support tuition fees for second and third children until university graduation. Additionally, the monthly allowance for a newborn baby could increase from 600 baht to 3,000 baht until the child reaches six years old.

Meanwhile, Prateep Thanakijcharoen, the Secretary-General of the National Health Commission Office (NHCO), highlighted the gravity of low birth rates at a Health Assembly seminar. He warned of the extensive impact on Thailand’s economy, society, and health.

Recent statistics indicate a worrying trend – deaths have begun outpacing births. In 2021, there were 560,000 reported deaths compared to 540,000 newborns. By 2022, deaths increased to 595,965 while births declined further to 502,107. Prateep warns that if the declining birth rate issue remains unaddressed, the resultant aged society could undermine the industrial sector’s competitiveness. It’s clear that Thailand needs a younger demographic to support its ageing population, reported Bangkok Post.

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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