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Nation to expand support for couples wanting to have children

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As part of efforts to address Taiwan's falling birth rate, Premier Su Tseng-chang on Thursday received a Ministry of Health and Welfare briefing on fostering a safe and friendly environment for pregnancy and childrearing. The government will promote three policies: expanding subsidies and eligibility for infertility (in vitro fertilization) treatments, increasing the number and types of obstetric examinations, and increasing subsidies for parents who take unpaid leave. The overarching goal is to provide families with support and assistance for conception, prenatal exams, and postnatal care from infancy and childhood up to 6 years of age.

From the nation's perspective, the decline in number of children born is a matter of national security, the premier said. To help fulfill the dreams of couples wanting to have children, the government will raise the number of times in vitro fertilization subsidies may be granted and expand eligibility to include more people.

Regarding prenatal care, the number of subsidized obstetric appointments will be raised from 10 to 14, while the types of screening tests will be expanded. Paid leave for prenatal checkups will also be increased from five to seven days, and the salary costs of those two additional days off will be fully funded by the government, the premier said.

For childrearing, he also explained, both parents of newborns will be eligible for unpaid parental leave and will receive a child care allowance equivalent to 80 percent, up from the previous 60 percent, of their average insured monthly salary. The additional costs will also be publicly funded.

With Taiwan experiencing the world's lowest birth rate, the government will endeavor to address the issues and work with parents to raise children. Apart from those pending legal amendment, all proposed subsidies and benefits are set to take effect July 1 and will be entirely funded by the government, the premier said.

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