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Thailand bets on ‘magic capsules’ to boost declining birth rate

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand has tried money bonuses and tax incentives to boost the nation’s birth rate, however on Valentine’s Day right this moment it adopted a brand new strategy – handing out vitamin capsules.

Like a number of different Asian international locations, Thailand is ageing quickly. Birth charges have dropped sharply from greater than 6 kids per lady in 1960 to 1.5 in 2015, in accordance to World Bank figures.

In Bangkok, well being officers handed out folic acid and iron capsules in pink packing containers at six areas to entice to put together for being pregnant. The capsules got here with leaflets explaining how to be wholesome so as to conceive.

Relationships and intercourse had been beforehand a taboo topic however attitudes have modified and they’re now mentioned extra publicly. Still, well being consultants say Thailand can have to speak much more about conception and birth if it needs to boost its inhabitants.

Together with China, the nation has the best proportion of aged folks of any creating nation in East Asia, World Bank figures present.

The inhabitants has peaked and can start to lower in 2030, pointing to potential financial issues, reminiscent of labor shortages and a smaller base of revenue tax payers because the working-age inhabitants shrinks.

Successive Thai governments have launched varied schemes to encourage baby-making however, like in neighboring Singapore, whose birth rate is amongst the bottom on the earth, they haven’t seen a lot success.

Thailand’s money bonuses and tax incentives for folks with kids have performed little to boost births however analysts stated they weren’t beneficiant sufficient to immediate Thais to have extra kids. They didn’t cowl the true value of elevating a baby, they stated.

Thailand’s 2015 birth rate of 1.5 per lady is under 2.6 births in neighboring Cambodia and a pair of.1 in Malaysia. Health consultants say the birth rate wants to be 2.1 to preserve a inhabitants rising.

‘MAGIC PILLS’

Prenatal nutritional vitamins are pictured throughout a Valentine’s Day celebration on the Laksi district in Bangkok, Thailand February 14, 2018. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Various causes have been put ahead to clarify the falling birth rate in Thailand, from increased dwelling prices and work commitments to the shift of the inhabitants away from farms, the place huge households are wanted, to city facilities.

Some blame a massively profitable free-condom marketing campaign in Thailand within the early 1990s – aimed toward combating HIV/AIDS and which was broadly copied around the globe – as an element that has diminished the birth rate.

“From 1970 to 1983 there were an average of 1 million Thais born each year. After that the birth rate began to decline. Now there are just over 700,000 people born each year,” Kasem Wetsutthanon, director of the Metropolitan Health and Wellness Institution, informed Reuters.

“At the moment Thai couples are having an average of 1.5 children. Ideally, it should be 2.1 if we are to maintain the population growth,” he stated.

Kasem blamed altering attitudes in direction of the normal household unit for the declining birth rate.

“Now, many are thinking that it is a burden to have children, unlike in the past when children were important for the family.”

Nalin Somboonying, 27, who has a four-year-old little one, stated some folks really feel they want materials possessions first earlier than beginning a household.

“I think nowadays people want to be ready first. They feel they must have a house, a car, first before having a child,” she informed Reuters.

Satta Wongdara, 31, who along with his spouse picked up among the capsules at a sales space in Bangkok’s Lak Si space, blamed lengthy work hours.

“People nowadays work more so they have less children,” Satta informed Reuters.

Still, Kasem stated he hopes the capsules, which he referred to as ‘magic pills’ will get Thais pondering twice about being pregnant.

“We want to get people to have more children.”

Additional reporting by Prapan Chankaew and Gavin Maguire; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Neil Fullick

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