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Thailand country profile

© UNICEF Thailand/2009/Athit

Thailand is firmly established as a middle-income country. Economic growth over the last two decades has been impressive. Poverty has fallen by around two-thirds since 1990, despite the 1997 economic crisis, from which Thailand has recovered well. This prosperity, combined with a growing awareness of and commitment to child rights, has resulted in successive governments investing in the wellbeing and future of children. This investment has brought huge, often life-saving benefits to millions of children. Since 1990, achievements have included:

• a 50 per cent fall in infant mortality;
• a 50 per cent reduction in the number of children underweight;
• immunization coverage above 90 per cent;
• a doubling of secondary school enrolment and massive reductions in child labour;
• laws to protect the rights of children, including the 1997 Constitution, the Thai Education Act of 2000, the Child Protection Act of 2003 and the School for All cabinet resolution of 2005;
• bilateral and regional agreements to address trafficking and migration, including the world’s first multi-country Memorandum of Understanding on trafficking; and
• a law requring iodization of all salts for human consumption

Disparities remain

However, huge disparities remain, and the benefits of economic progress have not been shared by all children in Thailand. This is particularly true for the children of ethnic minorities, migrants, refugees and the very poor. These children are still denied many of their basic rights to survival, protection and development. For example, there are still an estimated 600,000 primary-school aged children not in primary school or who are enrolled late. A disproportionate number of them are from minority groups in remote or very poor areas, often along Thailand’s borders with Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia and Myanmar. Children in these groups also account for the vast majority of children who are not registered at birth -- which their rights to an education, healthcare and other services could be denied.

Challenges for children

• Birth registration
• Access to and quality of education
• HIV/AIDS
• Trafficking and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation
• Child labour
• Poverty and increasing disparities
• Juvenile justice
• Violence against children
• Child accidents and injury
• Child soldiers and refugees
• Stunting, obesity and iodine deficiency
• Awareness of child rights and mechanisms for child participation
• Social trends such as increased drug and alcohol use and the break-up of traditional families
• Lack of data on children’s issues
• Children with disablities

 

 

 
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