Rehabilitating Health in the Myanmar Transition
October 31, 2013
Momentous political changes in Myanmar (also called Burma) jolted into action over two years ago, creating the most significant reboot of the Southeast Asian country’s political and economic landscape in the last five decades. Recognizing Myanmar’s critical geopolitical position between China in the north and east and India and Bangladesh in the west, the United States, the European Union, and other democracies have moved quickly to lift decades of economic sanctions. The opening has revealed a health system in complete disrepair resulting from decades of neglect.
The United States should leverage its unique capabilities to strengthen Myanmar’s Ministry of Health, maximize other donors’ activities, and initiate activities in the embattled ethnic states. Finally, there is a strong case for the United States to explore, step-by-step, U.S.-Myanmar military–to-military health engagement as a tool to advance Myanmar’s overall national health goals, and using health collaborations as a tool for building reconciliation and an integrated, stable nation.