Thailand handing out 95 million condoms to beat STDs, teen pregnancy

Thai universal healthcare card holders are eligible to receive 10 condoms a week, for a year. PHOTO: PEXELS

BANGKOK – Thailand plans to distribute 95 million free condoms to curb sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and teen pregnancy as the South-east Asian nation seeks to promote safe sex ahead of Valentine’s Day. 

Starting Feb 1, universal healthcare card holders are eligible to receive 10 condoms a week for one year, government spokesman Rachada Dhnadirek said in a statement on Tuesday. The condoms will be available in four sizes and can be grabbed from pharmacies and primary care units of hospitals nationwide, she said.

“The campaign to give out free condoms to gold-card holders will help prevent diseases and promote public health,” Ms Rachada said.

Among the diseases the government aims to prevent are syphilis, cervical cancer, gonorrhoea, chlamydia and Aids, she said. 

Thailand has seen an increase in STDs in recent years, with syphilis and gonorrhoea making up more than half of 2021 cases, according to latest official data. The age groups most affected were those between 15 and 19, and between 20 and 24, data showed. 

In 2021, 24.4 Thai girls in the age group of 15 to 19 gave birth out of every 1,000, according to official data. That compares with a global rate of 42.5 for the same age group that year, according to the World Health Organisation.

About 50 million out of nearly 70 million Thais are enrolled in the government’s universal healthcare scheme, also known as the “gold card”, according to the most recent government data. The card is used to receive some medical care in public and selected private hospitals. BLOOMBERG

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