JUST in time for Valentine’s Day, the Thai government is handing out pills it calls “very magical vitamins” to prospective mothers to boost the country’s falling birthrate.
The program is called “The campaign for red-cheeked Thai women to have children for the country using very magical vitamins.”
On the streets of Bangkok, government employees are handing out these “magical” prenatal vitamins containing folic acid and iron to women between the ages of 20 and 34.
Public health Minister Dr. Piyasakon Sakolsattayator says the government is promoting more planned births to maintain population levels.
According to statistics, fewer couples are taking the plunge in Thailand and those that do tend to exchange vows much later in life, resulting in fewer children born each year.
“Fewer Thai women are getting married, are marrying later or instead staying single because of higher education,” he said, as quoted by Khaosod English.
Thailand’s birthrate fell to 0.4 in 2015 from 2.7 in 1970. The figure is expected to reach zero, in equilibrium with the death rate by 2027, Khaosod reported.
While pushing to reduce teen pregnancies, the government is encouraging adult women to increase their birthrates as part of a Cabinet-approved health ministry programme.
Starting 8am Tuesday, government employees began distributing the “magical vitamins” from the Bang Rak District Office between Silom and Surawong roads. Prospective parents and pregnant women can also obtain the pills at public hospitals.
The ministry’s pharmaceutical director Nopphon Chuenklin said the government had allocated THB1,000,000 (US$28,600) for the vitamins.
Wachira Pengjun, health ministry director-general recommended the women take one dose at least three months before pregnancy to decrease the risk of birth defects.
“A large number of couples will come and register their marriage licenses (on Valentine’s day), so we will distribute a box of the vitamins along with an informational pamphlet,” Wachira said.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press