Thailand will tackle its declining birth rate by putting fertility on the national agenda, according to Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew.
Speaking after meeting the ministry's executive officials on Friday, Dr Cholnan said birth promotion is one of the "quick win" policies which should take effect within 100 days.
Dr Cholnan said the proper birth rate should be 2.1 per 100,000 population but the present rate is just 1.5 births per 100,000. In other words, Thailand should have around 2 million newborn babies each year but the fact is that only about 500,000 babies are born each year.
Low fertility could lead to a lower number of working-age adults and 20% of the population being classified as senior citizens. That would qualify Thailand as a "super-aged" society.
"The low birth rate will take time to solve and it will be proposed that the premier list it as a national agenda item," he said, adding the ministry will propose the government support tuition fees for second and third children until they finish university and also raise the monthly allowance for a newborn baby from 600 baht to 3,000 baht until six years old.
Meanwhile, Dr Prateep Thanakijcharoen, secretary-general of the National Health Commission Office (NHCO), told a seminar on low fertility hosted by the Health Assembly on Friday that low fertility is a critical matter as it will have a widespread impact on the economy, society and health in Thailand.
The number of deaths has also surpassed the number of newborn babies. Deaths were reported at 560,000 in 2021 and rose to 595,965 in 2022 while the number of newborn babies kept declining from 540,000 in 2021 to 502,107 last year. "If the matter remains unresolved, the resulting aged society will undermine the competitiveness of the industrial sector," Dr Prateep said. Thailand needs more young to support its ageing population.