Why are there three different Thailand MICS5 reports?
Inequity is at the heart of a series of MICS reports released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) and UNICEF in 2017. In addition to the national MICS report that was conducted in Thailand in 2015-2016, two reports were published which focused on marginalized communities in the country. One report sheds light on the most disadvantaged fourteen provinces – nine of which have exceptionally high poverty rates and five which have been in a prolonged state of unrest. Another report focuses on urban inequality and surveys small communities in Bangkok.
Let’s start at the national level – How have the findings from MICS been shared for policy use?
MICS data are being used at the national level for policy planning, implementation and monitoring. The national launch, chaired by the Minister of Digital Economy and Society, engaged over 150 policymakers as well as national media outlets. An equity analysis based on data from the MICS on nutrition, breastfeeding, water, sanitation, fertility and child development informed the government’s understanding of social issues in the country.
And what did the provincial data show? Are national level problems seen at the provincial level as well?
The findings from the provincial MICS show that each province has its own successes as well as its own challenges. For instance, while the national stunting rate was 11 per cent, this rate was much higher among the five southernmost provinces – such as in Narathiwat where the stunting rate was 29 per cent. Adolescent pregnancies were also found to be found particularly high in certain provinces, including in Mae Hong Son (MHS) where there were 127 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19. The disparities between provinces has implications for how authorities should prioritize addressing issues through effective budget allocation and data-driven programming.
Are provincial authorities aware of the results?
Yes! Provincial authorities were engaged by the respective statistics offices for the fourteen provinces covered by the MICS survey. Launches were attended by more than six hundred senior local government officials, including the governors, deputy governors, chiefs of line ministries (including education and health), local NGOs, universities and media outlet across the country. As part of each launch event, there were discussions to identify the policy and programming responses.
Now, about the Bangkok MICS? Are children from Bangkok better off than children from other parts of the country?
The Bangkok Small Community MICS is another unique survey that has an equity-focus which sheds light on the deep pockets of poverty in Bangkok. A different sampling framework was developed to conduct the survey among almost 3,000 households from the small communities. While there were impressive achievements in areas of child well-being such as the near universal primary school attendance rate as well as a high level of parental support to learning, there were concerns in other areas, including the low rate of exclusive breastfeeding, high level of teenage pregnancy and a low level of acceptance towards persons living with HIV/AIDS. In some of the areas, the results were more concerning than the poorest provinces.
So what happens next?
Dissemination of the results from MICS is not the endpoint of UNICEF’s work. UNICEF, together with the National Statistics Office, is committed to support the government in integrating the findings into national and provincial planning, programming and monitoring to accelerate the fight against inequity. The government has used MICS for the Voluntary National Review of the SDGs in the areas of nutrition, water, sanitation, child marriage and birth registration. Furthermore, findings are planned to be utilized to guide and monitor national plans and strategies, including the 20-year strategy, the 12th National Economic and Social Development Plan, and the Thailand 4.0 policy.
Household interview in Tak province © UNICEF Thailand/2016/Thuentap