Two health de­part­ments slows ser­vices: min­is­ter

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - HTOO THANT thanhtoo@mm­times.com – Trans­la­tion by Thiri Min Htun

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

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