Myanmar Gets First Health R&D Funds Since Independence

By Moe Moe 7 November 2017

YANGON — The Myanmar government has granted one billion kyats (US$740,000) for research and development in the health sector, according to the minister for health and sports Dr. Myint Htwe.

Addressing a meeting of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at the ministry in Naypyitaw on Monday, the minister said: “All our work, without research, is like fumbling with our eyes closed.”

This is the first time in the country’s modern history since independence in 1948 that the Health Ministry has received a research and development budget, with the National League for Democracy government planning to double the amount next year.

The funds will be used for research in all of the departments under the ministry for teaching, food safety and pharmaceutical production, said director-general of the FDA Dr. Than Htut.

“Nothing will develop without research. Not only manufacturing but services also need research. According to international practices, organizations use up to 40 percent of their budget on research and development,” said Dr. Than Htut.

The research budget is a separate fund from the medical research budget, an annual allocation for the Medical Research Department under the Health Ministry.

The ministry comprises the Department of Public Health, Department of Medical Services, Department of Medical Research, Department of Human Resources for Health, Department of Traditional Medicine, Department of Sports and Physical Education, and FDA.

The national health plan of Myanmar (2017-2021) aims to extend access to a basic essential package of health services to the entire population by 2020. According to the health ministry, the country’s life expectancy is 64.7 years, the lowest among ASEAN countries.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.