Campaign to boost birth rate

Campaign to boost birth rate

The Public Health Ministry has launched a "Give Birth, Great World" campaign in an effort to encourage couples to have babies and boost the nation's worryingly low birth rate, said Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew.

The campaign seeks to promote parenthood among young couples, many of whom are choosing to delay or decide against having children for various reasons, he said.

"We have to dispel the belief that having more children will make one poor, especially among those who are from a higher socioeconomic background.

"The intention is to maximise the country's competitive advantage," Dr Cholnan added.

Dr Cholnan said fixing the nation's low birth rate is now a priority item on the government's agenda, adding if current trends continue, Thailand looks set to be one of the 23 countries in the world whose population will shrink in the next couple of decades.

In an effort to boost the nation's flagging birth rate, the Public Health Ministry will also establish 119 fertility centres nationwide -- 12 at provincial public health clinics run by the Department of Health, 16 at public hospitals and 91 at private hospitals, Dr Cholnan said.

The clinics will be able to dispense advice and treatment for people with reproductive issues, he said.

"Once the number of senior citizens surpasses the number of working age individuals and newborn babies, the country will face a population crisis, as there will be fewer young people to meet the demand for labour. This will hurt economic growth, as well as population security," he said.

Dr Achara Nithiaphinyasakul, acting director-general of the Department of Health, said on Wednesday that there were 485,085 babies born last year, the lowest number in 70 years.

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