Keynote Speech By H.E U Htin Kyaw, President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar at the Universal Health Voverage(UHC) Forum 2017
(Tokyo, 14 December 2017)
Your Excellency Prime Minister Mr. Shinzo Abe,
Your Excellency President Mr. Macky Sall of Senegal,
Your Excellency Secretary General Mr. Antonio Guterres,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
I am delighted to be here with you all today. I also wish to extend my sincere appreciation to the organizers of the forum for providing me with an opportunity to deliver a speech at this important event.
It is my firm belief that health is a fundamental requirement of all human beings, and nothing can be meaningful for a person without it. Health is essential to improve overall well-being of families and communities, and to achieve economic growth and prosperity that are both inclusive and sustainable.
Since our democratically-elected government took office on 30 March 2016, we have been exerting all-out efforts to fulfill the desires of our people for democracy, peace and national reconciliation. Peace and security are essential elements to carry out healthcare activities efficiently under the overall framework of UHC.
To provide better quality health services to our people is the top priority of our government’s development agenda. Investing in health is one of the core strategies of the government to strengthen human resources for health and bolster our efforts in building a healthy society.
Myanmar is determined to achieve the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030. This long goal will ensure that every Myanmar citizen, irrespective of race, religion, ethnicity and socioeconomic situation, will be able to receive acceptable quality healthcare services without experiencing financial hardship.
Underlying the critical role of health sector in our nation-building efforts, key stakeholders including the government, ethnic nationalities, civil society, private sector, and development partners, jointly formulated the National Health Plan (2017-2021) with an overall aim of achieving the UHC by 2030.
In line with the principles of UHC, we have laid down strong and sturdy foundations for all spheres of a resilient health system to serve our people effectively. We have set goals to extend access to essential health services to everyone in the country.
Given our financial and technical constraints, we have identified key strategic areas to focus on our first steps towards the URC, namely: defining the content and delivering an essential package of health services; developing a national health financing strategy; and strengthening functions of the health system to be able to provide quality services.
At the same time, we are making sure that all health facilities are fully functional, managed by skilled workers, and availability of essential medicines and commodities.
While mobilizing financial resources in the nation’s overall health system development, we are coordinating with all relevant domestic and international institutions for sustainable financing for health. As such, we are formulating a long-term health financing strategy.
Myanmar, being an emerging democratic and developing country, is facing a variety of challenges from all aspects such as political, economic and social. We consider the challenges as opportunities. We are determined to overcome these challenges together with our people. This will require close cooperation with like-minded partners from within and outside the country.
As Myanmar is very diverse in terms of ethnicity, language and terrain, strategies are being formulated and adjusted to suit the local context and needs. This is being done in line with the overarching goal of UHC in mind. We acknowledge that such reforms will take time and perseverance.
Everyone has a role to play in overcoming the challenges and achieving UHC in Myanmar, and therefore, people will need to be educated with knowledge of primary health literacy and also empowered to lead a healthy life style.
We are fully aware that health literacy level of the population and practice of healthy behavior by the population are key determinants on our path to achieve the objectives of UHC. We continue to promote and improve the health literacy level of communities in a nation-wide scale.
We are also aware that (i) UHC is an ongoing and lengthy process; (ii) the strategies of UHC always need to be reviewed, aligned and improved; and (iii) there is always a need to consider long term perspectives. Taking into consideration all the above scenarios mentioned earlier, we are practicing phase-wise and step-wise approach in implementing UHC activities.
We are convinced that we will be able to achieve our goal of UHC by carefully implementing our National Health Plans. We are no longer at the beginning of our journey towards the UHC, but still have a long way to go.
We look forward to collaborating further with like-minded organizations and countries for the mutual benefit of all involved entities. It is crucial to activity participate in experience sharing and learning platforms such as this Forum.
The Government of Myanmar thanks the Government of Japan for their contribution on our way towards UHC. The Government of Japan’s continuous support to Myanmar health sector has dated back to the seventies. With the support of the Government of Japan, officials from Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports have had the privilege of accessing state-of-the-art knowledge in many Japanese institutions.
We thank the Government of Japan, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the World Bank Group, WHO, UN agencies and all members of UHC 2030 for their continuous support in the long journey to promote shared vision and practice of UHC. I pledged that the Government of Myanmar will remain your steadfast partner.
The Government of Myanmar is strongly committed to achieving Universal Health Coverage so that our people can live longer and have better quality of life.