After decades of conflict, entrenched poverty and chronic underinvestment in health and education, the Government of Myanmar, led by the National League for Democracy (NLD), is spearheading efforts to strengthen health services for all. Community Partners International (CPI) helped organize a half-day information sharing session to encourage exchange between Parliamentarians and national public health experts and support the ongoing health system reform process.
The session entitled 'Moving Myanmar’s Health System Forward – from Evidence to Policy' was attended by 27 Members of Parliament, including representatives from three health-related parliament committees, public health experts, and representatives from non-governmental organizations including CPI’s Myanmar Country Director Dr. Si Thura. This important event fostered frank discussion about the many challenges facing Myanmar’s health system, presented strategies for improving health services and access, and established a platform that sustains discussions concerning health system reform.
The Government of Myanmar is seeking to achieving universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030, giving every individual access to health services they need without creating financial hardship. This goal, and the renewed momentum for reform, offer an unprecedented opportunity to transform health services for millions of people in Myanmar.
Four public health experts made presentations addressing the key resource and capacity challenges in reaching this ambitious goal. The speakers were Dr. Than-Tun Sein, Dr. San San Aye, Dr. Nilar Tin and Dr. Phone Myint.
They emphasized the burden that the lack of health coverage places on families and communities in Myanmar today. With 80% of expenditure on health sourced out-of-pocket, many of those who fall sick face the stark choice of deferring or foregoing treatment, or risk incurring catastrophic debt and spiraling into poverty if they do seek treatment.
The presenters underlined the importance of equity in all aspects of health care reform, including policy making, resource allocation and health service provision, and emphasized the key role of ethnic and community-based health organizations and the private sector in achieving universal health coverage.
They stressed the importance of focusing on primary health and public health as crucial components of universal health coverage, and highlighted the need for effective monitoring and greater accountability throughout the health system.
They unpacked the financing, data and resource challenges facing the health system reform process, and made recommendations to urgently expand financial risk protection for the poor and increase financing for health through government expenditure and other mechanisms.
CPI is honored to assist this information sharing process with Myanmar Parliamentarians. We have been committed to ensuring better health care for Myanmar’s underserved families and communities since our origins more than 17 years ago. We have deep and longstanding partnerships with ethnic and community-based health organizations throughout Myanmar who have served the country’s most marginalized and neglected communities for decades and play an essential role in the national health system. We are committed to supporting all stakeholders in the Myanmar health system as they work towards the shared goal of universal health coverage.
CPI is grateful to the participating Members of Parliament for their dedication to this issue and their expressed interest in continuing these sessions on a regular basis. The session was convened in Nay Pyi Taw by the Health and Sports Development Committee of the Lower House and moderated by Dr. San Shway Wynn, Chair of the Health and Sports Development Committee. The session was organized by CPI, the Three Millennium Development Goal Fund (3MDG), and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).