Healthcare in Myanmar is chronically underfunded, and the country is listed as having one of the poorest health systems in the world. The country is fortunately making strides towards improving its healthcare infrastructure. Myanmar's most recent National Health Plan (NHP) aims to ensure access to essential healthcare for the country's population and aims to pave the way towards universal healthcare.
Most expats will find that the public health system is inadequate, and they will need to secure comprehensive health insurance to access private healthcare.
Public healthcare in Myanmar
The 2017-2021 NHP is aimed at increasing access to basic healthcare and financial protection for Myanmar's citizens by reducing out-of-pocket spending. That said, Myanmar spends just 1 percent of its GDP on healthcare, and this has led to a shortage of critical healthcare professionals such as doctors and nurses.
Most of Myanmar’s hospitals are located in its major cities, while 70 percent of the population lives in its rural areas. Additionally, the country’s facilities and equipment are also lacking, particularly in rural areas. In some of the most remote parts of Myanmar, healthcare is almost non-existent.
Private healthcare in Myanmar
While the public sector accounts for 86 percent of health services in Myanmar, the country’s private healthcare is rapidly developing. The country allows foreign healthcare practitioners to work in Myanmar, and foreign investment in healthcare is on the rise. This makes for excellent private healthcare services with modern equipment and highly qualified staff.
Most private hospitals in Myanmar are located in Yangon and have English-speaking staff, which caters well for expats. Fortunately, medical costs in the country are relatively affordable, though most expats pay for services through medical insurance.
Health insurance in Myanmar
There are two kinds of health insurance in Myanmar: offshore and onshore insurance, and most expats organise offshore international health insurance before their arrival in the country.
Depending on individual coverage, international medical insurance offers comprehensive services. These typically include medical evacuation to neighbouring Singapore or Thailand for emergency and critical care.
Expats should ensure their medical insurance covers medical evacuation and provides access to global medical treatment, as health services in Myanmar are limited.
Pharmacies and medication in Myanmar
Most pharmacies in Myanmar are located in Yangon and are generally open late into the evening. There is usually a wide range of medication available, but since the 2021 military coup there have been reports of medication shortages. Myanmar’s pharmacies are also infamous for selling counterfeit drugs, so expats should check medication bought in the country thoroughly before taking it.
We recommend expats bring an extra supply of permitted prescription medication along with a doctor’s note for the first three months of their stay.
Health hazards in Myanmar
Mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria, dengue, chikungunya and Japanese encephalitis are endemic in Myanmar. Expats should mosquito-proof their accommodation and ensure all their vaccinations are up-to-date.
Many animals in the country carry rabies, so expats should avoid petting or feeding dogs or monkeys. Other health hazards new arrivals need to be aware of are the increased risks of typhoid, polio, hepatitis A and HIV/AIDs in the country.
Expats should also avoid tap water and raw or undercooked food, as water and food safety in the country is questionable.
Emergency services in Myanmar
Emergency services in Myanmar are inadequate, and it is unlikely that expats will reach an English-speaking operator. Paramedics generally lack training and do not have the necessary equipment for medical emergencies. Private hospitals usually have ambulance services, and expats can call the facility directly to arrange medical transport. Nonetheless, in a medical emergency, expats can call 192.