UNICEF Thailand - About us - Thailand country profile

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Thailand country profile

About us_overview
© 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 fully recovered. 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. These  investments have  brought huge, often life-changing  benefits to millions of children. Since 1990, achievements have included:

  • 50 per cent fall in infant mortality;
  • 50 per cent reduction in the number of  underweight children;
  • immunization coverage above 90 per cent;
  • doubling of secondary school enrolment and large  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
    • law requiring iodization of all salt for human consumption

Disparities remain
Yet huge d disparities remain, and the benefits of economic progress have not been equally shared by all children in Thailand. This is particularly true for the children of ethnic minorities, migrants, refugees and the very poor. A large number of children still face a number of obstacles to claiming their rights to protection and development.  Many children still do not complete a primary school education, and many more do not go on to secondary school.  A disproportionate number  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. Without a birth certificate  their rights to an education, healthcare and other services can  be denied.

Challenges for children

  • Access to and quality of education
  • Trafficking and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation
  • Child labour
  • Poverty and increasing disparities
  • Juvenile justice
  • Violence against children
  • Child accidents and injury
  • 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 disabilities

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