Myanmar’s healthcare system is not renowned for the right reasons. It is consistently ranked badly by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on a whole host of criteria including life expectancy, amount of GDP spent on healthcare and incidence of diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria. In 2001 Myanmar ranked at 190th and last place in the WHO’s rankings of national health systems.
A lack of expenditure over many decades has left this developing nation largely without access to quality healthcare. Recently, the government has demonstrated a shift in priorities and committed to increasing expenditure on hospitals, medicines and pharmacies to improve healthcare in Myanmar.
The fact remains however that the country lags some way behind its more developed Asian neighbours when it comes to the availability of even the most basic services such as access to GPs and dentists.
There are internationally qualified doctors working in Yangon and expats can usually access good primary care for minor ailments at private polyclinics, however outside the capital and for anything more serious relying on Myanmar’s healthcare facilities is simply not an option for many. You will need to travel to Bangkok or Singapore where you will be able to receive the best treatments available in world-class hospitals.
This makes it absolutely imperative that any expats living in Myanmar have a fully comprehensive international healthcare insurance policy.
There are certain criteria you need to consider such as making sure the policy is portable if you relocate from Myanmar, that it meets the specific requirements of your family, taking into account any personal health issues including long term ailments or maternity cover and that it offers a direct billing facility.
The single most important factor that absolutely must be included in any healthcare policy for expats living in Myanmar is evacuation cover.
With evacuation cover you have the peace of mind that should anything serious happen to you or a family member the costs will be covered to transfer you or a family member to the nearest country offering world-class healthcare facilities.
You simply cannot rely on Myanmar healthcare to treat any serious conditions including heart attack, stroke or cancer.
Carl Turner is Senior Financial Consultant at Infinity Solutions, which specialises in providing financial planning solutions to expatriates throughout Asia and across the world. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and don’t necessarily reflect Myanmar Business Today’s editorial opinion.