Two health departments slows services: minister
The existence of two health departments has slowed delivery of medical services, but there are no plans on the books to merge the institutions, parliament heard yesterday.
THE creation of a Department of Public Health and a Department of Medical Care under the U Thein Sein government has delayed service at the township level, said Union Minister for Health and Sport U Myint Htwe.
Members of the Pyithu Hluttaw discussed the public health system yesterday and agreed to assign more doctors to the Department of Public Health, but there are no concrete plans to combine the duelling departments. In August, they will hold a coordination meeting to determine the best solution.
Twelve Pyithu Hluttaw MPs seconded the proposal, put forth by MP Aye Zin Latt (NLD; Shwebo), to hire more doctors, including former vice president Sai Mauk Kham (USDP; Lashio), who now holds a seat in the legislature.
The previous government had to create two departments, the former vice president said, because it had a big workload, large staffs to manage and handled some of the most complicated work.
“I will set up a meeting with the regional, state and township heads of the Department of Public Health and the Department of Medical Care from August 3 to 6 to reform the management, administration and operational procedures in the departments without changing the set-up,” said U Myint Htwe.
He plans to collect the opinions and suggestions of the public in preparation for the meeting.
He said he had learned that health staff do not want to work in rural and remote areas because of difficulties with accommodations, so the ministry will request priority funding to construct buildings for staff in the coming financial year.
Sai Mauk Kham said the department has to provide treatment for numerous diseases, including malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, leprosy, cholera, dengue fever and bird flu, while also performing nationwide tasks such as vaccinations, teaching about environmental and nutritional health, and running health programs at schools, so it needs adequate funding for buildings, medicines, vehicles and skilled workers.
The Department of Public Health is supposed to employ 58,554 workers but it is currently only 40 percent staffed, said U Myint Htwe.
In the next two months, supporters of the parliamentary proposal hope to hire 2000 doctors, but the staffing needs will only be met if qualified workers can be found, he added.
According to figures provided by Sai Mauk Kham, Myanmar has 35,170 doctors but only 11,039 are working in the public sector. Myanmar has educated 33,709 nurses, 19,645 of which work for the department. Of Myanmar’s 22,999 midwives, 9025 work in public health.
“If we assign 2000 more doctors, we would have more than 13,000,” he said. “With a population of more than 51 million, each doctor has to provide healthcare to more than 4000 people. Moreover, the need for specialists is even greater.”
‘With a population of over 51 million, each doctor has to provide healthcare to over 4000 people.’
Sai Mauk Kham MP, Lashio