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Empire of Empowerment: APEC’s New Blueprint to Solve the Birth Rate Crisis – Thailand Leads the Charge!

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Welcome to the enchanting city of Bangkok, a metropolis alive with energy, where the traditional meets the futuristic in a vibrant embrace. On the 29th of November, 2023, a coalition of health superheroes – the Department of Health of Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health, in cahoots with Organon, warriors of women’s health, aligned with the global health knight Jhpiego, associated with the esteemed Johns Hopkins University, the strategists at C&M International, and the vigilant Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Health Working Group – unfurled the APEC Smart Families Menu of Policy Options for Demographic Resilience. With an eye on tackling the tricky conundrum of plummeting birth rates and unintended pregnancies, a narrative familiar across the Pacific’s shores, this initiative stands as a beacon of hope in the steady pursuit of reproductive health empowerment and economic vigour.

Picture this – during the bustling 2022 APEC Health Week Policy Dialogue, the vibrant city of Bangkok bore witness to the birth of the APEC Smart Families initiative. Fast forward to today, and the Menu of Policy Options has blossomed with recommendations that offer a nurturing environment, allowing reproductive health decisions to flourish, thereby seeding economic prosperity.

Dr. Bunyarit Sukrat, a visionary at the helm of the Bureau of Reproductive Health, articulated a truth that resonates across 17 of the 21 APEC economies – birth rates dipping below the line of fertility sustenance. Tangled in this demographic dance are the high tides of unintended pregnancies, especially amongst adolescents, beckoning urgent attention from policymakers. Dr. Sukrat committed to steering Thailand through these socio-economic waves, intensifying efforts to embroider a tapestry of support for women on their reproductive journeys. In a heartfelt note, Dr. Sukrat extended a cloak of gratitude to peers, who, through shared wisdom and experiences, have galvanized efforts to fortify health outcomes, pivot sexual and reproductive health rights, thus freeing women and girls to unfurl their utmost potential.

Enter Mr. Koen C. Kruijtbosch, Organon Thailand’s Managing Director, who shared his exhilaration over the endorsement and publication of the Menu of Policy Options. A tip of the hat to APEC and the Expert Working Group for concocting such a comprehensive collection of policies that shine a guiding light for navigating demographic quagmires, specifically concerning birth rates and unintended pregnancies. These challenges hold the seismic potential to shake economic and social foundations deeply. Anticipation bubbles as Mr. Kruijtbosch envisions this tool aiding policymakers in stitching suitable solutions to mend these challenges.

Organon’s CEO, Kevin Ali, voyaged into the heart of the APEC CEO Summit discussions, exploring private sector fortitude in economic inclusion and resilience – a resolute commitment to a brighter, healthier future for women. Discussions transcended summit halls, as Mr. Ali and Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin exchanged insights on tackling Thailand’s dwindling birth rates, unlocking access to fertility treatments, and amplifying the Smart Families narrative.

The APEC Smart Families Menu is divided into three succulent sections like a feast for policymakers – Reproductive Health and Health Literacy offering a platter of access-improving policies, Labor and Economics with servings of supportive workplace environments, and the dessert – Funding and Financing Mechanisms, presenting sweet solutions to financial hurdles. Each section meticulously pairs the identified challenges with policy entrees and implementing entities, garnished with existing global policy recipes.

The essence of this menu extends beyond mere recommendations; it sews together an inclusive, empowering fabric for choice and decision-making. These policy dishes foster a culinary academy for reproductive health literacy, sprinkle benefits and guidance for employers nurturing supportive workspaces, and drizzle innovative financial sauces to sweeten the path for budding families and their dreams.

For those eager to digest the full APEC Smart Families: Menu of Policy Options for Demographic Resilience, a feast awaits on the APEC website – a buffet of wisdom open to all who wish to partake in this grand pursuit of harmony between family planning and economic prosperity.

As the saga continues, Organon stands poised, ready to pour its essence into APEC’s vibrant tapestry, addressing the twin spectres of falling birth rates and unintended pregnancies. We look to the horizon, glowing with the promise of further collaboration, threading the future of APEC Smart Families initiatives with golden strands of success.

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