Health


Despite pledges of support from abroad, a much-publicised plan to renovate Yangon General Hospital is still completely reliant on government financing, fundraisers say.
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When Myanmar opened to the West, one of the first sectors multinationals were most excited to pursue was the healthcare market. Because of the country’s internally forced exile from the world’s stage, Myanmar’s healthcare system has long been starved of western pharmaceuticals, medical devices and diagnostic equipment. Currently, Myanmar’s government-supported public healthcare provides basic care and some acute disease management; however, the little bit of capacity that is available is sporadic. For the last several decades, the WHO, UN and various NGOs have all made up the difference between what a functioning public healthcare system should have been able to provide – in particular with respect to communicable diseases – and what little the government system was actually capable of delivering. Historically, Myanmar’s government has spent approximately 2% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on healthcare; impoverished Laos spends 4.5% and Cambodia 5.6%.  As a result of Myanmar’s inadequate spending on healthcare, the WHO ranked Myanmar’s healthcare system dead last out of the 190 countries ranked with respect to “overall health system performance.”
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Muslim Rohingyas living in shelters in Burma’s western Arakan State have said they are facing a severe lack of nutrition as a result of aid workers evacuating the region following attacks on their homes and offices in March.
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Some 900 Muslims from Meikhtila in central Burma who lost their homes in communal violence just over a year ago are now facing water shortages and sanitation-related diseases at the shelter where they reside.
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Over six decades of civil war in Eastern Burma, civilians fled en masse over the border to Thailand in search of basic necessities – physical security, food, medicine.
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Every afternoon, the long lines start to form, hundreds of men, women and children waiting to dip their plastic buckets into the lotus-filled reservoir just outside Myanmar’s biggest city, Yangon. It’s their only source of clean drinking water, they say, and during the dry season, April and May, there is only so much to go around.
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Displaced villagers from Thameelay in Rangoon who were provided resettlement by the Democratic Benevolent Karen Army (DKBA) in Karen State are now receiving healthcare from Dr Cynthia Maung’s Thailand-based Mae Tao Clinic.
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The Mawlamyine Christian Leprosy Hospital is a long-established institution in Mon State, southern Burma, that treats leprosy, a highly stigmatizing disease that has long been endemic in Burma and was only brought under control a decade ago.
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Burma’s Ministry of Health issued a consumer warning to only buy drugs certified by government health authorities as cross-border contraband drugs continue to infiltrate the Burmese market.
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In response to a UN statement saying that hundreds of thousands of people have been affected by the evacuation of international aid groups from Arakan, the state government has said that there is still enough food for impoverished villagers and those displaced people in shelters.
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More than 800,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Burma are facing a variety of critical humanitarian needs, according to Unicef, which found that one in three IDPs are children vulnerable to malnutrition and a host of knock-on effects.
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Myanmar Football Federation (MFF) has joined the FIFA’s health program “Protect the Goal” together with Myanmar National League and UNAIDS, according to MFF on Thursday.
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France will contribute US$14 million towards cooperation with Myanmar on health issues this year, the French embassy has announced.
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The international aid organisation Medicins Sans Frontiers says it has been encouraged by talks with the government on the possibility of re-opening its clinics in Rakhine State.
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The patron of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party paid a visit on Monday to the renowned Mae Tao Clinic for Burmese refugees and migrants in Mae Sot, Thailand.
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Nearly 750,000 people, most of them members of a Muslim minority in one of the poorest parts of Myanmar, have been deprived of most medical services since the government banned the operations of Doctors Without Borders, the international health care organization and the main provider of medical care in the region.
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A rights group reported on Wednesday morning that “important progress” was being made in negotiations between the government and Médecins Sans Frontières, raising the possibility that the group’s live-saving care may return to Rakhine State in the near future.
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Dozens of villages in Thantlang, Matupi and Paletwa townships are facing renewed food shortages following bad weather conditions and low yields of harvest.
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Burma’s health ministry has deployed an emergency response team to Arakan State following the suspension of Médecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) operations there, but concerns are growing over a sudden gap in medical care for hundreds of thousands of people who previously depended on the humanitarian organization’s services.
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Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
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