Nippon Foundation Suspends Vehicle Donations

By Thu Zar 1 December 2016

The Nippon Foundation will suspend further vehicle donations in Burma until all of the cars currently parked at the Rangoon Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital have been deployed, deputy head of the foundation Takehiro Umemura told The Irrawaddy.

Photos of moss-covered unattended cars at the hospital compound recently went viral on social media, making people wonder why the cars—which were donated to be distributed to various hospitals—went unused in a country where 70 percent of the population lives in rural areas and lacks access to proper health care.

According to Umemura, the Nippon Foundation has donated used but still serviceable cars from Japan to Burma since 2012 to be used primarily as hospital ambulances. The foundation also covers the cost of reconditioning and converting the vehicles into ambulances under the supervision of the Ministry of Health and Sports.

According to Tatsuki Nakajima, the program director of The Nippon Foundation who heads up vehicle donations in Tokyo, the foundation has donated a total of 249 cars since 2012 to the Ministry of Health and Sports.

“Although the Nippon Foundation funds the reconditioning of these vehicles, the Ministry of Health is anxious to operate within their own budgetary capacity,” he told The Irrawaddy by email.

Auto shops in Rangoon have limited capacity to be able to service all of the vehicles quickly, he added.

When asked by The Irrawaddy about the unattended cars in the hospital compound, deputy director general Dr. Mya Wunna Soe of the Ministry of Health and Sports said, “We’ll seek a budget from the ministry to repair them.”

He said the cars had been held up at a port in Rangoon for about a year due to delays in donation and permit application processes, and that they had only been at the hospital for about six months.

“We hope these vehicles can soon be at the service of the people in Burma who need them,” said Umemura.