2011 United Nations Human Development Index: 149th of 179 countries
Population: 50-55 million (estimated)
Life Expectancy: 65.24 years
Male Life Expectancy: 62.91 years
Female Life Expectancy: 67.71 years
Birth Rate: 19.11 births/1,000 population
Death Rate: 8.1 deaths/1,000 population (2012)
Maternal Mortality Rate: 240 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)
Infant Mortality Rate: 47.74 deaths/1,000 live births
Overall Health Concerns
Despite recent improvements in some indicators, the health status of the Myanmar people remains of concern with noteworthy differences in health and nutrition, depending on where they live. The country has a young population with 28.2 per cent under 15 years of age, an estimated life expectancy at birth of 60-64 years and an under-five mortality rate of 77.77/1,000 live births (Reference: Health in Myanmar 2010) . There is limited information on the causes of child morbidity, though acute respiratory infections, diarrhoea, malnutrition and malaria are believed to be among the primary causes.
Infectious diseases including malaria, tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/AIDS continue to remain a concern in Myanmar for the whole population. TB is considered a major health problem and Myanmar is one of 22 high burden countries with TB. Recent estimates suggest that 1.5% of the population become infected with tuberculosis every year, of which about 130,000 people progress to develop tuberculosis. Half of those cases are infections with positive smears, spreading the disease in the community (Ref; Health in Myanmar 2010).
Malaria also presents a significant problem with approximately 76 % of the population (7,931, 446) living in high-risk malaria areas (80 endemic townships of 15 States and Regions). National statistics confirm over 200,000 cases per year.
The prevalence of HI/AIDS has been reported to be about 0.61 per cent (387,800) of the adult population aged 15-49 years. The results from the Estimation and Projection of HIV/AIDS (2009) revealed that approximately 238,000 adults and children were living with HIV in Myanmar at the end of 2009. The adult HIV prevalence peaked in 2000-2001 and has been declining since.
Access to Health Services
Health services are provided through the public and private sectors with significant numbers of the population relying on traditional medicine. Public health services are centralized at the township level. Generally this comprises a 16 to 50-bed hospital at township level, with one or two station hospitals and four or more rural health centres providing health care services for a population of 20,000-25,000 people. Mid-wives or community health workers are often the primary resource at sub-rural health clinics. The Ministry of Health is reported to have 884 hospitals, 86 primary and secondary health centres, 1,504 rural health centres and 6,599 sub-rural health clinics throughout the country. UNICEF estimates that 60 per cent of all visits to health services are to the private sector, with public sector doctors also providing services through private clinics.
Formal social welfare systems in Myanmar are quite limited. In this context, community-based responses are an important part of community resilience and coping strategies. In rural areas, 17% of households are headed by women. Traditions and customs expect women to manage household finances, prepare food, make clothing and look after the children. After many natural disasters, women’s vulnerability is exacerbated as they continue to maintain the burden of caring for the family as well as the extra burden caused by the loss of traditional income.
Disasters and Emergencies
While Myanmar is not highly prone to natural disasters, the devastating effects of Cyclone Nargis in May 2008 and Cyclone Giri in Rakhine State in October 2010 emphasized the need to maintain effective countrywide response mechanisms. As such, MRCS is committed to promoting organizational preparedness that responds to the effects of natural hazards. It also aims to increase community resilience through disaster risk reduction activities. Myanmar is formally committed to the Hyogo Framework for Action (2005-2015). Of the 11 severe tropical cyclones to hit Myanmar over the last 60 years, nine have made landfall outside the recently severely-affected delta region. MRCS will continue to roll out a more comprehensive approach to community-based disaster risk management as initiated in 2009. Such an approach allows MRCS to be the first responder to numerous localized disasters, including fires, storms and floods that affect a large number of households and leave noticeable effects on many communities.