By July Moe (Myanma Alinn)
Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS) has laid down objectives and strategies to enable every citizen to attain full life expectancy and enjoy longevity of life free from diseases. Moreover efforts are being made to enhance disease prevention activities and provide effective treatment of prevailing diseases.
During the tenure of the new government, the MOHS has laid down effective polices to provide 11 types of vaccines per child free of charge across the country.
To vaccinate every child, hospital-based immunization clinics had been opened in many hospitals, general hospitals with 100 beds and above, and Specialist Hospitals across the country.
MOHS has introduced these vaccines which are really effective in preventing infectious diseases for children.
As a result, every children has chance to get vaccinated through the government’s nationwide immunization program and these are the vaccines against Japanese Encephalitis, vaccine against rotavirus causing diarrhea and the vaccine against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) causing cervical cancer.
The MOHS has aimed to achieve goals and milestones of National Immunization Program, such as to achieve zero polio cases and to meet the target of maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination status, and eliminate measles and control of rubella and Congenital Rubella Control by 2020.
With increasing numbers of children suffering from Japanese Encephalitis, the Ministry of Health and Sports has successfully launched a nationwide immunization campaign aimed at protecting 12.6 million children aged from 5 months to 15 years of age across the country. This National Immunization Program is supported by the World Health Organization, the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund, GAVI a public-private global health partnership and PATH, a Seattle-based nonprofit global health organization.
Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care
The MOHS had conducted Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care training with the aim of improving midwifery workforce planning and management in Myanmar.
Moreover the registrar’s manual on registration of births and deaths is of great importance for all the ministries. The introduction of the manual can be regarded as a milestone for Myanmar and is very useful in laying down socio-economic policies, principles on population, policies on caring for the aged and policies on nurturing children.
Child and infant mortality refers to deaths that occur before the age of five. In Myanmar, 38 children out of every 1,000 born die before reaching that age, whereas 227 mothers out of every 100,000 die according to the data of MOHS. As for the MOHS, efforts are being made, using Maternal Death Surveillance and Response System, to reduce the mortality rates of both mothers and children.
School Healthcare Program
School is the basic institution in every society and offers the possibility to improve the health not only of the school children but also of the whole community. It can be achieved by implementing and strengthening comprehensive school health program in Myanmar.
Aiming to promote the health standard of the entire student youths, the skills and knowledge needed for adoption of healthy lifestyle, Health Promoting School program has been introduced into existing school health services across the country.
The MOHS is monitoring the prevalence of health risk behaviors and protective factors related to the leading causes of mortality and morbidity among students aged 13-15 years: dietary behaviors, hygiene, mental health, physical activity, protective factors, tobacco use, knowledge about HIV Infection and AIDS, and violence and unintentional injuries.
Myanmar Traditional Medicine
With the aim of all-round development of the Myanmar traditional medicine, the MOHS has made concerted efforts to promote the quality of Myanmar traditional medicine across the country.
Myanmar Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Union Minister for Health and Sports Dr. Myint Htwe said, “It is difficult for the FDA alone to ensure that food, drugs, cosmetics and consumer product matters are safe and up to international standards.
While everything is done to the utmost to monitor the exclusion of substances that shouldn’t be included in food, drugs, cosmetics and consumer products, informing the public to avoid consuming such products, avoid consuming products that are not labeled and do not have an expiry date and are not recommended by FDA, more needs to be done to provide recommendations according to regulation, sampling from the market and investigating in the market. Furthermore lab network in each ministry needs to be linked and more testing needs to be conducted.
To combat tuberculosis
As for the government, plans had been made to raise the budget expenditure to combat tuberculosis by 2.5 per cent within three years, hoping to reduce TB incidencts by 40 per cent through new health facilities, laboratories and diagnostic services.
Myanmar is one of 22 countries that since 1998 has been considered to be a TB “high burden” country (HBC), according to 2016 statistics. According to the study, there are approximately 150,000 cases of TB detected annually in the country. Transmission of multi drug-resistant TB is also targeted to decrease by five per cent between 2015 and 2020 through collaborative efforts of the government and its partner organizations.
To reduce the burden of tuberculosis in the country, new outpatient departments have been opened in Yangon and Mandalay with the support of the Three Millennium Development Goal Fund (3MDG), one of the largest contributors of external assistance for health in Myanmar.
The new facility has provided diagnostic and treatment services to patients who do not require hospitalization free of charge.
The Ministry of Health and Sports is working towards the elimination of TB as a public health problem.
As for the MOHS, plans are under way to enhance health promotion activities which are the right strategy to attain the millennium goals of the country.
The National Health Plan and Public Health
With a healthy and educated population, a nation can overcome all challenges. Thus an educated and healthy people are the best guarantee for a country’s future. Therefore health and education are among the main factors to help a nation move forward. With the efforts of the government, the MOHS is trying its best to improve the public’s health system. Also the National Health Plan is for the public’s health which can contribute to the country’s development.
The National Health Plan is crucial for Myanmar, and the healthcare professionals should acknowledge the fact that everyone can potentially contribute to the country Health care is everyone’s responsibility. If the citizens have faith in our healthcare system and believe that the nation will take care of them, whether they are rich or poor, then it is the greatest gift for our country.
Moreover the National Health Plan can ensure everyone has access to basic health care by reaching out to the cities of different states and regions.
The National Health Plan is the first step towards the Universal Health Coverage 2030 which guarantees accessible heath care for every citizen.
(Translated by William Ko)