Over the past month, one of the most discussed online topics in Thailand is the Public Health Ministry's plan to seek cooperation from the Education Ministry to install condom-vending machines in schools in order to curb teenage pregnancy. The public is almost equally split between supporting and rejecting the idea, but both sides agree that sex education is a better solution. Whether or not the plan will be realised, it is worth discussion and comparison to previous measures to promote safe sex.
Last month, the National Committee on Reproductive Health Service System Development held a meeting to find ways to control teenage pregnancy. It revealed that 129,451 girls aged between 15 and 19 gave birth last year while 3,725 girls under the age of 15 became mothers. Of all those young mothers, 15,443 had been pregnant and or given birth before. To tackle the problem, the Public Health Ministry should reach an agreement with the Education Ministry to double the number of condoms under the Condoms for Teens programme to 80 million per year using 37 million baht and to install condom-vending machines in shopping malls and schools. In addition, it will seek to promote sex education in schools and distribute handbooks under the concept of "sex counsellor" for providing sex education to teenagers and parents.
Thailand's teenage pregnancy rate is the highest in Southeast Asia and the second highest in the world, according to the Public Health Ministry's Bureau of Reproductive Health. Last month, the bureau stated that teen births are on the rise. Girls aged 15-19 account for 54 out of every 1,000 live births. The number of live births by girls aged 15-18 increased 43% between 2000 and 2011.
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