Wednesday, May 24, 2017
The Myanmar Times
The Myanmar Times

Health assistants want changes to the system

Health assistants want more opportunities for promotion, better education and a new name, the Blue Ribbon campaign committee announced at an event in Nay Pyi Taw’s Sky Palace hotel on August 13 and 14.

Health assistants working in villages can prescribe medicine and provide health education. When someone gets very sick, health assistants direct them to the appropriate doctor or hospital.

Health assistants would like to be addressed as “public health officers”, committee members said at the event. They want more transparent and specific policies surrounding the transfer of health assistants.

And as soon as possible, they want the government to enact rules that protect public health workers, and they would like access to post-graduation courses.

The committee’s chair, U Aung Cho, said their demands will be sent to Union Minister for Health and Sport U Myint Htwe.

“After the submission of the outcome of this meeting, we will negotiate,” he said.

Ko Tun Myo Aung, who is participating in the campaign, said the committee was not bringing up new ideas but was focusing on things that needed to be addressed.

“We health assistants have tried to provide the best service we could,” he said. “But we did not get the opportunities we deserved because of bad management.”

Myanmar’s healthcare service was ranked 190th in the world last year, according to a report from the World Health Organisation.

“We are waging the campaign not because we want to get an official post in our department, but because we want to see changes there,” said Ko Tun Myo Aung.

When they tried to address problems within the system, bureaucracy and bad management put a stop to progress, he said.

“We are not given the rights to make decisions,” he said.

“But those who can make decisions never take responsibility. And there is no transparency in the decision-

making. If someone complains about these issues, they are persecuted for it.”

Health assistants face threats from supervisors when they try to improve the system, Ko Tun Myo Aung said.

“When someone points out the errors of a supervisor, they are punished,” he said. “For example, they are transferred from our department to another department or ordered to work in a remote area and they lose their chance to improve their skills.”

The campaign, which is being waged by health assistants across the country, started on July 25.

– Translation by Thiri Min Htun