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Myanmar Government Should Shift Funding Away From Military Into Health Care

Burma, also known as Myanmar, “seems to be making the difficult and fragile transition from military dictatorship to fledgling democracy,” but the country has “some of the worst health indicators in the world,” a Lancet editorial states. “[T]he military retains a strong presence in regions of ethnic tension, and health and human rights abuses are certain to continue without adequate monitoring,” it continues.

According to the editorial, “In 2008, total expenditure on health was $12 per head, far below the $60 per head recommended by WHO for low-income countries to reach the health Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Although the national health budget has increased fourfold for 2012/2013, most of the new budget will pay for salaries. Health attracts less than three percent of overall government expenditure, and is dwarfed by the military budget.” While “[i]nternational organizations report improved relations with Burma’s Ministry of Health,” some experts say basic health services remain unattainable, the editorial notes, concluding, “The government must begin to shift resources from the military back to the health of its people” (6/23).