My country is a lower middle-income country and as a result, we are struggling to achieve the first phase of universal healthcare coverage. Previously, we envisioned to achieve the first phase of UHC in 2030, but the current political crisis spilled after 2021 coup has made this objective harder to achieve. According to Nikoloski et al (2021), there is a negative correlation between poverty levels and UHC index in Myanmar, which means that there is a pro-rich inequity in access in healthcare. Therefore, to achieve the goals of UHC, there are two main approaches we should take as suggested by Nikoloski et al (2021).
The first approach is to invest more in healthcare infrastructures and training the healthcare workforce. Due to its years of isolation, the ministry of health is chronically underfunded resulting to low availability of healthcare services especially in border areas and hilly regions. So, my country should increase the funding to improve both health infrastructures and human resources.
The second approach is that the government should promote financial protection for those who seek medical attention. According to Nikoloski et al (2021), people in poverty are more likely to suffer from financial burden in Myanmar. One of the reasons is the lack of health insurance. Though there are some types of health insurance for government workers, most insurances are not available to most of the public (Nikoloski et al., 2021). It leads to the risk of financial burden. So, the government should collaborate with private sectors to implement insurance programs that cover the majority of the public. Additionally, the government should implement programs that can reduce the financial burden as well as the increase in access to essential packages. For example, in 2017, the government introduced the National Health Plan that includes a basic EPHS (essential package of health services) (Nikoloski et al., 2021). This is a positive direction towards the goals of UHC.
To conclude, Myanmar has the UHC index of 65.4, which ranks it on 96th position out of 111 countries (Nikoloski et al., 2021). So, there are several things and approaches we must take to achieve phase one of UHC in 2030. The government should couple the two approaches namely investing a substantial fund on healthcare infrastructure and workforce and reducing the financial burden to those who seek medical attention. However, the current conflicts across the whole nation still serve as the major barrier to take these approaches.
Nikoloski, Z., McGuire, A., & Mossialos, E. (2021). Evaluation of progress toward universal health coverage in Myanmar: A national and subnational analysis. PLoS medicine, 18(10), e1003811. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003811.