Govt urged to make Thailand’s low birthrate part of national agenda


Thailand’s increasingly low birthrate will soon affect the country from social, economic and healthcare aspects, the National Health Commission Office (NHCO) warned at an event on Friday.

At its 4th Policy Dialogue held at the Stock Exchange of Thailand headquarters, NHCO said it was time the government added this concern to the national agenda and took immediate action.

It cited that in 2021 alone, Thailand saw 544,570 births compared to 563,650 deaths – there were 19,080 fewer births.

The agency estimates that by 2040, the number of children aged one to six will drop to 3.1 million, from the 4.3 million children recorded this year.

NHCO warned that this low birthrate is accelerating the ageing of society. It said the ratio of people who required long-term care against working people had risen from 39% in 2013 to 44% in 2022.

The office also revealed that in 2021, only 28.6% of newborns under six months of age were breastfed and some 0.35 million children under the age of six are growing in poor families.

These statistics show that many children have a low quality of life, NHCO secretary-general Dr Prateep Thanakijcharoen said.

He added that this low birthrate problem cannot be solved by medicine and science alone, public awareness will also have to be raised.

He said NHCO will gather suggestions from participants and relevant agencies to formulate long-term solutions.

“To tackle this problem, we must not only find ways to increase the birthrate but also build a system that ensures a good quality of life for the newborns, so they can grow into healthy citizens,” he said.

NHCO listed three aspects that should be prioritised in order to efficiently tackle the low birthrate problems. They are:

1) Building a strong filial and educational foundation from early childhood;

2) Promoting vocational development, upskilling and reskilling to maximise employment opportunities for seniors;

3) Promoting a saving habit among seniors and reforming the tax system to ensure retirees have an adequate income.

Partners joining the event included the National Economic and Social Development Council, Social Development and Human Security Ministry, Public Health Ministry, National Higher Education Science Research and Innovation Policy Council, and Office of International Health Policy Programme.