Myanmar launches process for creating a new, more inclusive National Health Plan

Minister of Health and Sports acknowledges that the new health plan will affect Myanmar's population for years to come. Photo: 3MDG

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Earlier in October 2016, the Ministry of Health and Sports launched a three month consultative process in Nay Pyi Taw to finalize the 2016-2021 Myanmar National Health Plan.

The plan will detail the overall approach for what can and should be done to develop a stronger health system during the next five years, as well as help to cement the foundations of Myanmar’s goal by 2030 - Universal Health Coverage. This ensures that all people have access to the healthcare they need, without suffering financial hardship to pay for it. The plan will also allow 3MDG to better target its support, and align with Ministry of Health and Sports priorities.

With millions of people facing difficulties in accessing affordable, quality healthcare, especially those in hard-to-reach and conflict-affected areas, the Minister of Health and Sports H.E. Dr Myint Htwe emphasised the need for a plan that is both inclusive and practical:

"Now it is the time for action, and time for a new approach. We must have enough courage and heart to admit that the current health system is not effectively providing the level of service that people expect”, the Minister said.

The Minister highlighted the importance of inclusivity in the approach, because, “only if the people of Myanmar own this document, will it truly serve their needs.”

The process to create a new National Health Plan includes four workshops that aim to collect sufficient evidence and consensus to make an agreed health plan for the next five years. Work that has already been done will be used and analysed to avoid duplication and wasting resources.

In order to include all relevant stakeholders, the workshops are being held with selected representatives from different groups. These groups are the Ministry of Health and Sports (central and state/region level), the Ministries of Planning and Finance, Education and Social Welfare, the Social Security Board, Defence Medical Services, civil society organizations, local and international NGO’s, ethnic health organizations, professional associations and councils, the private health sector, UN agencies, donors and international financing institutions.

Around 50 nominees in total, selected from each group, are expected to attend and commit to all of the four intensive workshops held during the last months of 2016. This will create consistency in the planning process, the Minister said.

Country director of UNAIDS Eamon Murphy, speaking on behalf of the UN agencies, endorsed the plan’s consistency and compact timeframe, expressing the UN’s intention of supporting the planning as well as its implementation.

Representatives from other stakeholder groups also expressed their support for the inclusive process, and ethnic health organisations were especially pleased to be invited to the planning. The representative from the Karen Department of Health and Welfare stressed the importance of reaching the ethnic, hard-to-reach areas better, where the health needs of people are most crucial.

In his speech, the Minister underlined that it is timely to launch the process, as Myanmar is at an important juncture in its development:

“We now have the opportunity to lead and pave the path not just for the next five years, but to systemize a health system that will affect the Myanmar population for many years to come.”