Posted in Political Institutions on Jun 19, 2019

The stated objective of this Bill is to introduce consistent quality standards for universities and courses that award medical degrees, diplomas and certificates. The aim is also to harmonise standards with related national education and health policies. Moreover, it aims to prevent abuse of the medical higher education system.

Registered under the Department of Human Resources for Health, Ministry of Health and Sports, Myanmar has 15 medical and medical related universities, and other institutions offering 50 nursing, midwifery and other related trainings. There are 11 undergraduate and postgraduate diploma courses available in the country, 58 master courses, 14 PhD courses and 43 doctorate courses. This Myanmar Medical, Diploma and Certificates Bill has been submitted during the current, second term of Hluttaw. If approved, it would replace The Burma Medical Degrees Act (India Act VII, 1916).

Myanmar Human Resources for Health Strategy 2018-2021 (HRHS)

The National Health Plan 2017-2021 (NHP) was developed by the Ministry of Health and Sports (MoHS) with an objective to extend access to a Basic Essential Package of Health Services (BEPHS) to the entire population by 2020. The plan comprises four operational pillars to achieve this, one being the development of human resources for health.

An earlier Health Workforce Strategic Plan had been developed for 2012 to 2017, replaced now by a Myanmar Human Resources for Health Strategy 2018-2021 (HRHS) that intends to meet significant challenges such as the shortage of public health workers, an imbalance in the mix of skills in the workforce, and an inequitable distribution between states and regions, often exacerbated by difficulties in rural deployment and retention.

The strategy requires that health workforce requirements are identified that are needed to achieve the NHP goal of universal health coverage, and aims to strengthen and support educational and training systems to improve the capacity of the health workforce accordingly.

According to Ministry of Health & Sports (MoHS) statistics released in November 2016, Myanmar has 1.3 health workers (including doctors, nurses and midwives) for every 1,000 people. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a minimum threshold of 2.3 health workers per 1,000 people, and this is the objective that has been set in the NHP and HRHS so that the country will achieve the objective of universal health coverage, which is also one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Burma Medical Degrees Act (India Act VII, 1916)

Under this earlier, colonial era Act, no organisation other than the University of Rangoon could confer, grant or issue Western medical degrees, diplomas, certificates or licences. There was a fine for the any non-permitted organisations found offering such awards, and for individuals voluntarily or falsely holding qualifications. In a 1962 amendment, the punishment for contravention was increased to both a fine and imprisonment for a term.

However, this Bill would enables more specific universities, colleges and courses to give medical degrees, diplomas and certificates, including: those established by The University Education Law of 1973; those under the Ministry of Health and Sports and the Ministry of Defence; and private universities, colleges and courses permitted by the Ministry of Health and Sports.