Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo

Government coming up with policies to address decline in fertility rate

Health Minister Dasho Dechen Wangmo has outlined the policies to address the declining fertility rates in the country, and emphasized the far-reaching consequences of this trend, not just for individual families, but for the nation as a whole.

“The decrease in fertility rates affects not just families, but it will affect the country as well,” said the Health Minister.

She also shared that it will have a huge impact on the social sector if we do not have the replacement population. There is a need for a similar number of people to support the aging population. If we have an imbalance in these two, then this becomes a huge threat to the country in terms of economic productivity, demography and social security.

The Health Minister acknowledged that solving this issue requires a multifaceted approach, as the government alone cannot tackle it.

The Health Minister shared that, to raise a child, a lot of support is required including the family, community, and economic support.

Recognizing the challenges faced by working mothers, the government is looking for the measures to facilitate their lives. The Health Minister said that there is no way a working mother can play both the role of a mother and her profession. That is where the government is looking at the working mothers, specifically on how to make their lives better. For instance, the plan of allowing foreign babysitters to come in to ease the life of a working mother.

The government is also focused on advocacy and educating young married couples about the benefits of having children and the consequences of demographic imbalances. The government is also exploring policies to increase maternity and paternity leaves, and enable flexible working hours for pregnant women.

The citizens have to understand the importance of having children and the negative consequences of not having them, not only for individual families, but also for the country as a whole. It is important to sensitize people regarding the decision not to have kids can lead to a threat to the country’s demography, she added.

In addition to these initiatives, the government has expanded access to the Early Childhood Care and Development Centers (ECCDs) and is looking forward to framing of work-from-home policy for pregnant women.

In a country where health and education services are already free, these efforts are aimed at ensuring the future well-being of Bhutan’s families and the nation’s demographic security.

The well-being of mother and child is very important as it can contribute to the demographic crisis if not taken good care of. There needs to be a greater investment in mother and child as they are important to nation-building.

In response to these concerns, the government has launched the “Accelerating Mother and Child Health Program.” This program is dedicated to the well-being of mothers and children across the country. It includes targeted initiatives for maternal and child health and the introduction of enabling environments.

The Health Minister also emphasized on the importance of ensuring that mothers have a healthy experience with their first child. “If a mother goes through an unhealthy experience with her first child, then it is likely that she defers her second child plan,” the Health Minister added.

One significant step in this regard is the launching of prenatal vitamins from Germany from next month, which will be provided to every pregnant woman to ensure they have the proper nutrients for a healthy pregnancy.

Additionally, the government has introduced an ICTG machine that allows doctors to monitor pregnant women remotely, improving healthcare outcomes in the countryside.

The Ministry of Health is distributing 27 iCTG machines, with 25 designated for primary health centers in remote areas. This move aims to extend specialized gynecological and obstetric care to pregnant women living in challenging regions, ultimately improving access to quality perinatal care services across Bhutan.

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