Healthcare in Myanmar was crippled by decades of chronic under funding during the junta rule. Emergency services were one of the many casualties of meagre public spending and people would normally turn to family or friends during medical emergencies. However, now a local NGO, called Noble Heart, is providing free ambulance services in Yangon since January 2015.
But like most of the other ambulances on the country's roads they are only basically equipped and trained, offering more a transport service than full-fledged emergency care. Dr. Maw Maw Oo, associate professor at Yangon General Hospital's emergency medicine department, said, "We have ambulances but they are not fully equipped. People who use them are not trained, it's just transport. There's no system at all. Until 2012 Myanmar didn't have emergency care."
AdvertisementThe doctor further added, "This year Myanmar will welcome its first fleet of 230 emergency ambulances, aiming to roll out services starting with the main highway before expanding to Naypyidaw, Yangon and Mandalay. With plans also to launch a hotline and train-up its first-ever paramedics."
Budgets have increased since 2011's end of outright army rule. Despite being the world's fourth-fastest growing economy, Myanmar is still one of the lowest spenders on healthcare as a share of GDP. The latest World Bank figures reveal health spending increased from 0.2% to just over 1% of GDP from 2009 to 2013. Surgeon Tin Myo Win, the NLD health chief recommended the next government spend more than 10% of GDP on health.