Update on Health Care in Burma

The media often portrays the news from Burma as positive. European and American companies announce decisions to invest in the Burmese economy – offering opportunities for the public and investors alike. Many in Burma call these days the ‘time of transition’.

Missing from the discussion, though, is what has not transpired for the people of Burma – particularly those living in the east and north. Water, food, education and health care – the foundation of a society – remain lacking and stunted. The Burma government is not investing in these basic services.

Two to three years after the Burma government launched its reforms, some key health indicators remain appalling. Malaria continues to stalk the population. Fifty percent of all malaria deaths in Asia are in Burma – in east and northern lands. Access to government health care remains non-existent. For those who can travel to the larger cities, such as Rangoon, they arrive only to find they cannot afford it. The Burmese health care system remains riddled with graft and corruption. Bribes are necessary for quality care and basic access in a timely manner.

Community Based Organizations or CBOs (sometimes called Cross Border Organizations) continue to provide the bulk of the medical, health and community based care in eastern Burma. The Burma army’s continued attacks in Kachin and Shan states has pulled at the CBO’s resources as they are moving backpack medic teams into these areas as well.

Meanwhile, large western donor nations are using the media headlines as rationale to reducing funding for refugees along the Thai-Burma border. The Thai-Burma Border Consortium (TBBC) recently announced that food rations will be reduced as the result of decreasing funding from donor nations. A sad commentary that western governments will invest dollars for development, but not to care for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable. Worse yet, is that the leaders of the nations cannot perceive the risk they have created.

Burma Humanitarian Mission remains committed to the people of Burma – the Karen, Kachin, Shan, Karenni, Mon and so many other minorities whom the government ignores or attacks. The backpack medics we support are compassionate and committed to their people. Their selflessness is inspiring. As is the support of people from all communities who donate to us, our runners and other projects.

We remain honored to connect two such outstanding elements of our societies.

Please consider a donation today through the Transparent Fish Fund.  This wonderful foundation, which focuses on health and education in Asia, will match your tax-deductible donation dollar for dollar, doubling it’s impact.  BHM’s medical aid programs are currently operating at a loss – we spend more money on medicines and medic training each year than we receive in donations for these programs.  BHM doesn’t have the cash reserves to continue to do this indefinitely.  Unlike large NGOs we don’t receive huge grants, so this matching grant from T-Fish is very important to us.    Yet, we remain committed to the people of Burma who need our help more than ever.   Please help!