MoH to deploy JDWNRH specialists to other referral hospitals

Thorough research imperative to implement third child incentive policy

In a strategic move to combat the declining fertility rate in the country, the government has announced plans to provide incentives to families with a third child, aiming to encourage larger family sizes. However, Health Minister Tandin Wangchuk emphasized the paramount importance of thorough research before the implementation of such a scheme.

The minister revealed that the groundwork for the initiative is currently underway, including the collection of data and statistics from the Department of Civil Registration and Census to identify eligible women for childbirth. Additionally, a reproductive health advisory has been established to advocate for timely childbirth, particularly encouraging women to have children between the ages of 20 and 30 for the well-being of both mother and child.

However, despite the ongoing preparations, the timeline for the rollout of the scheme remains uncertain. Lyonpo disclosed that based on initial estimations, the incentive program could incur a significant budget exceeding millions.

The three-child incentive is the pledge of the government of the day. The country’s current fertility rate stands at 1.845 births per woman, which is below the global replacement rate of 2.07 needed to prevent population decline.

The minister expressed optimism that the implementation of the incentive scheme could potentially raise the fertility rate, consequently contributing to population growth.

Prime Minister (PM) Dasho Tsheirng Tobgay stressed the importance of the third child incentive for the country’s maintenance and security. He highlighted the formation of a special committee within the cabinet to oversee the scheme’s implementation, accentuating its significance to the government.

The proposed incentive offers a monthly cash allowance of Nu 10,000 for every child born after the second child, extending until the child reaches the age of three. The initiative aims to incentivize couples to have more children, ultimately boosting Bhutan’s fertility rate.

The government anticipates that providing financial support to families with three or more children will facilitate better management of work and family responsibilities. This initiative forms part of broader efforts to address low birth rates and ensure sustainable population growth.

With the introduction of the third child incentive, the government remains optimistic about its potential to increase the country’s fertility rate and encourage couples to expand their families.

Meanwhile, recent data indicates a declining trend in Bhutan’s fertility rate, with a decrease of 1.43% in 2023 compared to the previous year. In 2023, the fertility rate for the country was 1.866 births per woman, while it was 1.893 births per woman in 2022, a drop of 1.41% compared to 2021. This decline continues a trend observed over the past few years, emphasizing the urgency of implementing measures to reverse this trend and secure the country’s demographic future.

By Nidup Lhamo, Thimphu