Ensuring “Health for All” in Myanmar: The Need for Urgent Action
07 April 2023
I firmly believe that "Health for All" is not just a slogan but a fundamental human right that must be fulfilled.
In Myanmar, this right is not yet a reality for everyone. On this World Health Day, I would like to emphasize that access to quality health care is a prerequisite for individual well-being, economic development, and social progress.
Unfortunately, despite remarkable progress in the past few decades, millions of people still lack access to basic health services, medicines, and vaccines. In Myanmar, health disparities persist, particularly among rural and marginalized communities. Limited access to healthcare services, insufficient human resources, and inadequate health financing have resulted in high maternal and child mortality rates, high prevalence of communicable and non-communicable diseases, and insufficient pandemic preparedness.
As the world grapples with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear that access to healthcare is more important than ever. The virus has highlighted the deep inequalities in healthcare that exist in many parts of the world, including Myanmar. Hospitals were overwhelmed, and many people were struggling to access the care they needed. This is particularly true for those living in rural areas, where access to healthcare services is very limited. We must take immediate steps to address these issues and ensure that everyone has access to quality healthcare services.
Achieving "Health for All" requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the social determinants of health, strengthens health systems, and ensures access to quality health services for all. We need to prioritize investments in primary health care, disease prevention, and health promotion. We must also work towards equitable access to essential medicines and vaccines.
In addition, one way to achieve “Health for all” is through the implementation of universal health coverage (UHC). UHC is a system where everyone has access to essential healthcare services of good quality without facing financial hardships. It is an approach that has been adopted by many countries around the world and has been proven to be effective in improving health outcomes.
Myanmar has made some progress towards achieving UHC, but there is still a long way to go. The country needs to increase its investment on healthcare and further invest in essential health infrastructure and on health workforce. It must also work to further strengthen its health system and ensure that essential medicines and equipment are available to everyone who needs them.
In addition to investment in healthcare, there needs to be a greater focus on preventative healthcare measures. This includes promoting healthy lifestyles, increasing access to nutritious food, and providing education on health and hygiene. By investing in preventative healthcare measures, Myanmar can reduce the burden on its healthcare system and improve the overall health of its people.
Nevertheless, one of the biggest challenges facing the healthcare system in Myanmar is the low total health expenditure and high Out – of – pocket expenditure. Lack of adequate level of investment on health would invariably result in a shortage of health workforce, inadequate health infrastructure, and shortages of essential medicines and equipment.
Ensuring health for all in Myanmar is not only a moral imperative but also an economic one. Healthy people are more productive, and a healthy population can contribute to economic growth. The country needs to recognize the importance of investing in healthcare and prioritize it accordingly.
In conclusion, as we mark the World Health Day and 75 years of WHO this year, in 2023, let us commit ourselves to the goal of "Health for All." This requires political will, sustained investment, and partnership across sectors and stakeholders. Let us work together for Myanmar, where everyone can access quality health care without facing financial hardship, and where health is a shared responsibility and a common good.