The Quality of Life from Womb to Tomb

"The Quality of Life of a Southeast Asian", also known as "From womb to tomb", is probably one of the best known pieces of writing of Dr. Puey Ungphakorn.  In a simple, yet effective and moving way, he lays down the conditions for a good life that any decent human society should strife to achieve for its members.


While in my mother's womb, I want her to have good nutrition and access to maternal and child welfare care. 

I don't want to have as many brothers and sisters as my parents had before me, and I do not want my mother to have a child too soon after me. 

I don't care whether my father and mother are formally married, but I need them to live together in reasonable harmony. 

I want good nutrition for my mother and for me in my first two or three years when my capacity for future mental and physical development is determined. 

I want to go to school, together with my sister, and to learn a trade, and to have the schools impart social values to me.  If I happen to be suitable for higher education, that opportunity should be available. 

When I leave school I want a job, a meaningful one in which I can feel the satisfaction of making a contribution. 

I want to live in a law and order society, without molestation. I want my country to relate effectively and equitably to the outside world so that I can have access to the intellectual and technical knowledge of all mankind, as well as the capital from overseas. 

I would like my country to get a fair price for the products that I and my fellow citizens create. 

As a farmer, I would like to have my own plot of land, with a system which gives me access to credit, to new agricultural technology and to markets, and a fair price for my produce. 

As a worker, I would want to have some share, some sense of participation in the factory in which I work. 

As a human being, I would like inexpensive newspapers and paperback books, plus access to radio and TV (without too much advertising). 

I want to enjoy good health, and I expect the Government to provide free preventive medical service and cheap and readily available  good curative service. 

I need some leisure time for myself, and to enjoy my family, and want access to some green parks, to the arts, and to traditional social or religious festivities.  I want clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. 

I would like to have the security of co-operative mechanisms in which I join to help others do things which they cannot do alone, and they do the same for me. 

I need the opportunity to participate in the society around me, and to help shape the decisions of the economic and social as well as the political institutions that so affect my life. 

I want my wife to have equal opportunity with me, and I want both of us to have access to the knowledge and means of family planning. 

In my old age, it would be nice to have some form of social security to which I have contributed. 

When I die, if I happen to have some  money left, I would wish the Government to take some of it, leaving an adequate amount for my widow.  With this money the Government should make it possible for others to enjoy life too. 

These are what life is all about, and what development should seek to achieve for all.


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