Burma’s undernourished health sector will see a rise in government spending of 0.7 percent over the coming fiscal year, as well as an increase in staff numbers and facilities.
Still however the rise will bring total annual spending to only two percent of the budget, keeping Burma among the world’s lowest countries in terms of money allocated to healthcare.
“The [health] ministry is looking to allocate the new budget to increase staff numbers and medical supplies as well as improving [disease] prevention measures,” director of planning at the health ministry, Dr Phone Myint, told DVB.
He added that Burma’s healthcare sector “requires a budget of up to five percent of GDP” to meet the needs of Burmese citizens, who have long had to make do with rudimentary medical facilities.
Burma’s current spending on healthcare stands at 1.3 percent, or $US2 per person each year, while Thailand on the other hand allocates 11 percent. The remaining government budget includes 4.1 percent for education and 25 percent to the military, a seemingly colossal figure given that Burma has no external enemies.
There has also been talk of more funding for education. Economist Khin Maung Nyo said the government would soon hold talks with UN bodies to prepare for a possible overhaul of the education system in government schools, “Otherwise our education system will remain in the gutter,” he warned.
Whether the additional money is sourced from the public or from a reduction in military spending is unclear. In the country’s underdeveloped border regions, hospitals barely function on the scant money available, and many citizens cross into neighbouring Thailand to receive healthcare.
Anger was vented during the first session of parliament when it was announced that a Special Funds Law would be introduced that gives the army chief supreme authority to allocate unlimited additional money to the military without any notice, and without parliamentary consent. This would be in addition to current military spending.