Private sector to spur growth in Myanmar’s healthcare industry

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Private sector to spur growth in Myanmar’s healthcare industry

With economic and political reforms happening since 2011, foreign investment continues to enter Myanmar year on year. The new liberalized economy has created opportunities for both the public and private healthcare sectors as the country moves towards one of its Sustainable Development Goals – having universal health coverage (UHC) for all citizens.

However, challenges prevail in Myanmar’s healthcare system. Dr. Phone Myint Win, Myanmar country representative for the Burnet Institute, a nongovernmental organization, pointed out that coordination and integration of governmental systems, workforce capacity and leadership remain to be potential drawbacks for the sector to move forward.

According to a white paper titled “Emerging opportunities in Myanmar’s DI and IVD” published by management consulting firm Solidiance, out-of-pocket expenditure accounts for 78% of the total healthcare expenditure in Myanmar, while access to adequate healthcare in rural areas –70% of Myanmar’s population stay in rural areas – is at a minimum.

Nevertheless, there are very positive expectations for changes as the government aims to enhance Myanmar’s financing scheme by making UHC a reality through increased taxation. Yet no specifics have been confirmed.

Over the past few years, government spending for healthcare has increased drastically. By 2014, the government allocated USD 757 million to the healthcare sector compared to 2010’s USD 85 million. Moreover, The Burmese government has proposed a plan in parliament in January 2015 to increase healthcare budget allocation with an annual growth rate of 6% until 2020.

Myanmar total healthcare expenditure split

Source: World Health Organization (WHO), Ministry of Health (MOH), Solidiance Research and Analysis

As state spending on health continues to increase, demand for private healthcare services are also expected to increase as a growing middle-class continues to rise. According to Dr. Gershu Paul, executive chairman at Siloam Hospitals Group, one of Indonesia’s leading healthcare player, building synergy between the private and public sectors and the community is critical to the success of health care in Myanmar.

Siloam Hospitals Group, in partnership with Lippo Group, a real estate company in Indonesia, and Serge Pun & Associates, a hospital developer, have expanded their network to Myanmar where it runs a 175-bed hospital in Yangon.

“Private health care providers need to be streamlined and aligned to national health policies and objectives in order for them to fully capitalize on the healthcare market”, said Naithy Cyriac, Manager of Solidiance based in Myanmar.

“The economic results that drive private sector engagement will also need to be contextualized with regards to social values and results that underline the objective of achieving UHC in Myanmar,” she added.

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