Health Minister Rushes Back to Burma Amid Nursing Students’ Protest

By Htet Naing Zaw 17 March 2017

NAYPYIDAW — Union Minister for Health and Sports Dr. Myint Htwe has rushed back from a government trip abroad amid a protest by student nurses against government policy, said U Sein Win, deputy permanent secretary of the ministry.

Several hundred students from Rangoon’s University of Nursing took to the streets on Wednesday demonstrating against the ministry’s policy of issuing nurse and midwifery licenses to graduates only after the completion of three years of public service, and barring those who fail to complete the requirement from working at private hospitals.

The minister returned from his foreign trip ahead of schedule and will meet the ministerial team investigating the protests on Friday in Rangoon, the deputy permanent secretary told The Irrawaddy.

At a press conference held in Naypyidaw on Thursday, ministry officials announced a meeting between the investigation team and the press for the following day. Dozens of nurses gathered outside the ministry’s building in the administrative capital this morning.

The investigation team, however, is now in Rangoon to meet the minister. The nurses told the media they would wait in Naypyidaw until they heard the minister’s response on the issue.

Rumors have circulated that the leaders of the student nurses’ protest would be expelled. When confronted with the rumors, U Sein Win said it was up to the minister, adding that U Myint Htwe would also discuss the ministry’s regulations on nursing and midwifery licenses and salary increases for nurses.

The seven-member investigation team is headed by the deputy director general of the Department of Medical Services, and comprises the Department of Human Resources for Health director and the chairpersons of the Myanmar Nurse and Midwife Council and Myanmar Nurse and Midwife Association.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.