Myanmar underwent political reform in 2016 and is committed to reach Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030. The Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS) has developed a National Health Plan (2017-2021) to strengthen the health system and support the implementation of UHC.
To ensure a comprehensive approach, MOHS brought inputs from both government and non-government stakeholders. Prior to the military coup in 2021, there were consistent positive efforts and improvements in promoting the health status of the population, including significant achievements in combating communicable diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS through increased budget investment in public health.
Despite these efforts, Myanmar’s health system still faces several challenges, as the country is classified as a low- and middle-income country in the region. Life expectancy is the lowest among ASEAN countries, and there are significant geographic, ethnic, and socioeconomic inequalities that lead to disparities in accessing health services and financial risk protection. The Myanmar health budget contributes a very low percentage of the total budget, which results in households having to pay out-of-pocket for healthcare services. This drives the population into poverty and makes it difficult for people to obtain necessary healthcare services.
Additionally, the health system struggles with challenges in the availability and distribution of health assets, as well as failures in maintaining certain important functions. Limited oversight and leadership, as well as accountability, also pose challenges. Human resources are another critical issue in the health system, with shortages of trained personnel, inequitable distribution of healthcare workers, and difficulties in workforce distribution in rural areas. The lack of clear recruitment and deployment policies, along with unclarified roles and responsibilities of trained healthcare workers at all levels of the system, has led to extra workload and burnout.