Monday, July 23, 2012

Burmese medical survey finds patients frustrated

Monday, 23 July 2012 16:05 Mizzima News

A survey of Burmese medical patients has found widespread dissatisfaction with the way doctors and the country's healthcare system serves their needs.

According to a survey by the Myanmar Health Research Congress, many doctors have lost their integrity and professional values, they no longer respect patients’ needs, and they fail to interact sufficiently with patients to give them confidence, according to an article in the weekly Eleven Media Group.

Dr. Pe Thet Khin, the Burmese minister of health Photo: UNAIDS

Medical ethics is also a problem, said the study, and misunderstandings between patients and physicians are common.

The survey found dissatisfaction with private hospitals in providing effective care, as well as government hospitals, with many patients saying they did not receive appropriate medical exams.

In April, Mizzima reported that Burma’s health minister, in a visit to the US, said that the country’s healthcare system has been compromised after years of inadequate funding and it is unable to provide adequate health care to the public.

During a week long visit to John Hopkins University, Minister Pe Thet Khin and other health officials said that the purpose of their visit was to identify areas for collaboration and support, “especially in the promotion of public health activities,” as well as in areas of clinical medicine. John Hopkinds is one of the world’s premier teaching and public health institutions and it works with countries in improving their health care capabilities.

Among Burma’s health challenges, the minister said, are a severe shortage of healthcare workers and qualified health educators, inadequate health care facilities and substandard maternal and child healthcare.

In July, Mizzima reported that the rapid changes now taking place in Burma are creating the conditions for renewed support for the country’s precarious healthcare system.

Healthcare could be one of the sectors to benefit the most from foreign governments and organizations giving financial aid and training development to Burma.

Until this year, it was estimated that the government spent the smallest percentage of its GDP on health care of any country in the world, and international donor organizations gave less to Burma, per capita, than to any other country except India.

Burma’s public health system has been underfunded for decades, with public spending on healthcare less than 0.5 percent of the country’s GDP.

In addition, there are wide inequities between urban and rural areas, and health services fail to cover the most outlying regions in the country.

However, starting this year, the government has quadrupled its health budget and it’s starting to address a lack of supplies and poor hospital conditions, officials said.

At the same time, the government intends to improve doctors’ education and increase technical exchange programs with other countries.

In 2008, the UNDP’s Human Development Index, which measures progress in terms of life expectancy, adjusted real income, and educational achievement, ranked Burma 133 out of 177 countries.

Increased funding is badly needed by a population with poor health indicators, reflected in tens of thousands of deaths from malaria, tuberculosis, AIDS, dysentery, cancer and respiratory infections which can be effectively treated in most countries of the world.

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