Fertility rate increases, PM worried over possible drop amidst youth migration

The country’s fertility rate has risen to 2 children per woman from 1.7 some six years ago. This was shared by the prime minister during the Meet the Press session yesterday. The latest figure is from the National Health Survey that concluded last year but the prime minister shared his concerns as a large number of people in the productive age group are abroad. 

“This is a big jump in six years, and a welcome jump, a welcome increase. This means that our women are having more babies, and our families are getting bigger. However, the bad news is we are still not at the replacement level, which is 2.1 (births per woman), and we are at 2 just now,” said Tshering Tobgay, the prime minister.

The prime minister also shared his concerns as many young people are abroad.

“We have 40,000 people abroad. But most of them are youths, and many of them, even if they are married, are not starting families. This is cause for concern. So, while our fertility rate has increased from 1.7 to 2, the danger is that it’s going to plummet, and we must be prepared for that, therefore, we must ensure that our fertility and family policies and family planning policies address these challenges.”

However, the prime minister said that the health ministry has come up with several programmes to strengthen fertility services.

The plans include the introduction of In Vitro Fertilisation or IVF at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital in Thimphu.

IVF is a medical procedure where an egg is fertilised by sperm in a laboratory. After fertilisation, the resulting embryo is then implanted into the uterus for potential pregnancy.

The government had also pledged to provide a cash incentive of Nu 10,000 a month for every third child born. The incentive would be provided until the child reaches the age of three.

“This is something that the cabinet affairs is studying already. So, we have already commissioned a study and we are looking at the numbers, and once the study is ready, we will know when and how to roll out the programme,” said the prime minister.

Meanwhile, the health ministry has submitted measures to promote preconception care in all health facilities and implement comprehensive mother and child health care programmes.

Devika Pradhan

Edited by Tsheirng Zam

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