Five impacts of COVID-19 on children in Thailand
Their well-being may be affected in the long-term unless critical action is taken now
Children may not be the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, but this health emergency has been a crisis for children.
The impact of the pandemic on their well-being may be lifelong and most damaging to those already disadvantaged or in vulnerable situations. From UNICEF’s new summary report “The socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on Children in Thailand”, the research found that children were significantly impacted in five key areas.
Poor health and nutrition
- Children made up 10-25 per cent of all new infections on average in the third wave (April-September 2021).
- Around 60 per cent of low-income households and households with women and children ran out of food in the first year of the pandemic.
- Breastfeeding practices fell by 4.32 per cent during the first lockdown in 2020.
Rise in poverty
- Approximately 400,000 more people fell below the poverty line in 2020. The poverty level among children was higher than in other age groups, rising from 9.8 to 11.1 per cent for the 6-14 age group.
- School closures in 2020 affected almost 9 million children aged 3-17, and early learning centre closures affected 86.3 per cent of children aged 36-59 months.
- Many students lacked access to a computer (271,792 in 2021) and electricity (2,733). Children from Tak, Nakhon Ratchasima, Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala faced the greatest difficulties in accessing equipment for online learning.
- Only 86 per cent of children aged 6-17 from low-income families were enrolled in school in 2021, due to lack of money for school-related expenses and concerns by parents and students about catching COVID-19.
Mental health challenges
- Adolescents were anxious about their family’s financial situation (85 per cent), their education (66 per cent) and their mental health (75 per cent) at the start of the pandemic.
- Girls, older teens and teens who use substances were more vulnerable to despair or anxiety during lockdown.
Child safety risks
- Due to COVID-19, 441 children, mostly in primary and secondary schools, tragically lost at least one parent in July-December 2021.
Moving forward, Thailand, like many other countries in the world, must ensure an inclusive and sustainable recovery.
These five impacts of COVID-19 on children can be reduced if all stakeholders for children come together to help curb the spread of the virus and work to address its socio-economic impacts through continued and increased investment in critical services for children and young people including social protection, education, health and child protection. UNICEF is working with partners in the public and private sectors, civil society, and most importantly, with children and young people themselves to keep those most vulnerable to the crisis healthy, safe and learning.
With thanks to partners and donors, UNICEF:
- Supported Thailand’s most vulnerable children and families through the distribution of hygiene kits, information booklets, cold-chain equipment for vaccine transportation and storage, and life-saving oxygen concentrators for hospitals.
- Ensured access for families to basic health services disrupted by the pandemic, helped prevent their separation due to COVID-19 isolation measures and promoted safe breastfeeding.
- Advocated for the expansion of the Child Support Grant to reach all families with young children, supported an emergency top-up of the grant at the start of the pandemic, and mobilized donations through our Box of Life campaign and an emergency appeal to send life-saving support to children in need.
- Provided over 10,000 young children from low-income and migrant families with books and toys during school and early learning centre closure, while advocating to prioritize teachers for vaccination and supporting safe reopening efforts.
- Supported free online counselling for 30,000 young people and shared mental health resources for parents, teachers and young people through our Every Day is Mind Day campaign.
- Worked with the government to develop a National Alternative Care Roadmap to ensure every child’s right to grow up in a safe and nurturing family environment and be cared for by family wherever possible.
UNICEF has been serving the children of Thailand for over 75 years and with your support, we can ensure that the steady gains for children made over many years, continue. Our efforts for and with children now will shape their well-being and the country’s future long after the pandemic ends.
Read the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on Children in Thailand report here.
Find out more about UNICEF’s response for children and families since the start of the pandemic here.