Forum: Raise IVF support, build more confinement centres

Despite the various "baby boosting" incentives introduced by the Government over the decades, Singapore's birth rate has continued to decline.

I believe that a broader approach is needed in which the Government, business leaders and the community work to develop a baby-friendly culture that will encourage couples to have more children. I propose some initiatives worth considering.

More couples are turning to in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) methods to conceive and IVF treatments are very costly, even if they use MediSave. Perhaps the Government could do more to support this group of couples by increasing subsidies for the treatments.

It could also increase the MediSave withdrawal limit for their deliveries, given that the probability of multiple births is higher with IVF pregnancies.

The Government could consider giving an additional month of maternity leave to working mothers-to-be with multiple pregnancies.

It could also spur the establishment of maternity or confinement homes to cater to new mothers after their deliveries.

A few vendors already offer such services, but they are way too costly, ranging from $15,000 to $25,000 a month.

More such centres could be constructed, offering more affordable options for mothers seeking basic post-natal care.

Designated nursing room stations should be set up in more office buildings to help working mothers who need to pump their milk.

This initiative could be supported by employers as a staff welfare benefit.

Currently, most shopping malls have nursing station facilities. It would be good to make it a requirement to include a hot and cold water dispenser, vending machines for diapers, nappy wipes and other necessary supplies.

It's about time to relook all the various aspects of baby and child support if we want to increase Singapore's population replacement rate.

Winifred Low Choo Moi

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