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Thailand needs more babies, Ministry

The average Thai mother 50 years ago gave birth to six babies over her lifetime. That is now down to less than two. PAWAT LAAOPAISARNTAKSIN

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The Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) has announced a 10-year strategy to increase the number of planned births nationwide and improve the overall quality of births.

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Ministry plan to boost births

Adapted from a story by Om Jotikasthira

The Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) has announced a 10-year strategy to increase the number of planned births nationwide and improve the overall quality of births.

The strategy was discussed by director-general of the ministry's Department of Health, Wachira Pengjuntr, at a conference on Wednesday.

According to the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board, in 2015, a Thai woman had only 1.62 children on average, with the number expected to fall to 1.36 by 2035. Fifty years ago, a woman had six children on average.

"Women are now able to make more choices in terms of education and employment," said Wassana Im-Em, Assistant Representative of the United Nations Population Fund in Thailand. "As such, they will be able to choose for themselves whether they are ready to conceive."

The MOPH's strategy is in its early stages. Another issue that it aims to address is improving the quality of births, says Thongchai Lertwilairatanapong, the department's deputy director-general.

"A number of Thai children are born underweight, and some are born anaemic as a result of their mothers' poor health condition," he said. Slow development in children can be tackled by better nutrition and play in the early stages of life.

Figures from the Department of Provincial Administration say that the number of births in the country have fallen from 809,807 in 2005 to 736,352 in 2015. The mortality rate, however, is close to the birth rate, standing at four to five hundred thousand per year, says Dr Wachira. He encouraged women who are ready for pregnancy to have a baby.

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