Myanmar takes first step towards universal health coverage

The Myanmar Health Forum, which took place this week in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar ended with the adoption of a communiqué endorsing the goal of establishing universal health coverage (UHC) in Myanmar by 2030. The meeting was organized by Myanmar’s Ministry of Health and attended by 700 senior representatives from the Myanmar government, civil society, international development partners, academics, the private sector and health professionals. The communiqué outlined the requirements and commitments needed to achieve UHC.

In his opening address, the Vice-President of Myanmar, Dr Sai Mauk Kham said he hoped that “the Forum, through its experience sharing, will be able to guide the strategies and investments required to achieve quality, affordable health care for all in Myanmar, in line with Myanmar Health Vision 2030.”

Dr Than Aung, Union Minister of Health, presented the achievements and challenges of Myanmar’s health sector and stressed “the cross-cutting nature of health and the fact that health sector reform and development is not a ‘stand-alone’ subject. Health should be considered part of the foundation for the country’s long-term economic and human capital development.” Dr Than Aung also declared that this first ever Forum achieved its goal of bringing together the broader health and development sector players to discuss Myanmar’s health future.

Keynote addresses featured distinguished speakers such as the former Ministers of Health of Indonesia and Turkey, as well as many renowned international and national experts on health. Twelve panel sessions were dedicated to aspects relating to making Myanmar’s health and development more people-centred through the establishment of UHC.

Speaking for Myanmar’s international development partners, United States Ambassador to Myanmar, Derek J. Mitchell, reiterated the international community’s ongoing support for Myanmar’s health sector, as well as the link between health and economic and social development, stating that “UHC will be central in attaining Middle Income Country status. Health means wealth.”

Eamonn Murphy, UNAIDS Myanmar Country Director said, “UNAIDS welcomes this positive development and we hope that HIV prevention and treatment are included in the basic package of essential services which would become part of universal health coverage.”

Link to press release:

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