Burma’s new five-year plan for the health sector includes upgrading all 25-bed hospitals across the country into 50-bed ones, according to Dr. Myint Htwe, minister of health.

The minister announced the plan in response to lawmakers’ questions in Parliament’s Lower House on Tuesday about hospital upgrades, rural dispensaries and insufficient medical staff.

“We plan to upgrade all 25-bed hospitals into 50-bed facilities and employ 2,000 new doctors within two months,” he told Parliament.

However, the minister did not specify a timeline for the upgrades.

Lawmakers stated that even the 25-bed hospitals currently lack sufficient beds and staff.

“In my township, the ‘25-bed’ hospital is supposed to have four doctors according to the standard organizational structure. But, it only has 16 beds and two doctors. Employees are overstretched. Most locals are ‘grassroots people’ and can’t afford to go to special clinics,” said Aye Naing, a Lower House lawmaker representing Rangoon’s South Dagon Township, who also proposed building a 100-bed hospital in his constituency.

According to the health minister, the previous government had monitored the rate of hospitalization at government-run hospitals and found it to have gradually increased between 2011 and 2015.

The proposed bed upgrades will also mean a workforce increase from 55 to 156 employees at each facility.

Myint Htwe explained that the ministry will not go further and upgrade the 25-bed hospitals into 100-bed ones because the smaller hospitals receive only about 13 inpatients and 49 outpatients each day on average.

He added that the public does not often complain about the lack of beds, but more often about a shortage of doctors.

The minister said the 50-bed hospitals will include pathology, surgery, obstetrics, gynecology, pediatric, osteoporosis, emergency, dental and anesthetic units and his ministry will ensure they are accessible to all.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, 12 lawmakers seconded the proposal submitted in the Lower House by Dr. A Zin Latt, which urged the health ministry to expand the public health department. The minister noted the discussion and Parliament decided to monitor department works.

According to the Ministry of Health, there are a total of 1,190 hospitals in Burma as of February 2016.

Link: http://www.irrawaddy.com/burma/hospital-upgrades-planned.html