Vaccinations and Medical Care made easier with this travel guide
Medical care in Myanmar is widely-known to be far behind not only its Southeast Asian neighbors but the world in general. Outside of Yangon, it is a challenge to find reliable healthcare and public hospitals are, when compared to modern standards, unsanitary. Due to a lack of investment over the past half century and the country’s isolation, most local doctors do not have the knowledge and education (not to mention resources) to provide proper healthcare. Medical care in Myanmar has actually fallen so far as to be ranked by the World Health Organization (WHO) as last against its global counterparts, meaning dead last out of 190 countries for “overall health system performance.”
Vaccinations and Medical Care
Myanmar spends roughly 2% of its GDP on healthcare whereas impoverished Laos to the northeast spends 4.5% and Cambodia 5.6%. Myanmar continues to struggle with basic problems related to communicable diseases. Malaria is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the country. Many of these deaths occur from a drug-resistant form of the disease common along the country’s border with Thailand. TB rates in Myanmar are estimated to be three times the global rate and the majority of cases are drug-resistant.
Pro-Tip: Keep traveler’s diarrhea at bay! Avoid cooked food that is served cold or at room temperature, always drink from bottled water or from cans and stay away from ice in your drinks if you aren’t sure it is sourced from a bottle. Fruit juice has a tendency to be watered down… watch the barman to make sure any water added is from a bottle. Many travelers have stomach issues in Myanmar so spend a little more for a nicer eatery and save yourself from extended trips to the loo.
Thankfully the Myanmar government has begun reallocating a significant amount of money away from the military and towards improvements in the country’s medical system. Since 2013, healthcare in Myanmar has been on an upswing and nowadays several internationally-qualified doctors have begun to practice in Yangon. Due to an influx of internationals and FDI thanks to the country’s continuing opening to the world, the demand is steadily increasing for modern medicine and services have arrived to meet them. Even though the quality of services offered can vary greatly and trips to Bangkok remain a necessity for the most serious of illnesses and conditions, international clinics like the SOS Center at Inya Lake Hotel and the International Clinic at Parami Hospital in Yangon can provide sanitary, proper medical care for the foreign community.
Pro-Tip: Use excess caution when traveling in Myanmar and if you feel like you might be in need or will be in need of medical assistance, try to find your way to either Bangkok or Singapore. Smart travelers know to make sure these contingencies are covered in their travel insurance. Another tip is that due to the rudimentary payment system in Myanmar, you’ll most likely need to either pay up front or after receiving care in cash, with flat, crisp US Dollars widely accepted. Carrying a large quantity of Myanmar Kyat is advised in these circumstances.
Vaccinations: The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends getting several vaccinations for travel to Myanmar. In addition to routine vaccinations, travelers should get Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis, Polio, MMR, Rabies, Typhoid and Yellow Fever.
Malaria: When traveling in a tropical environment make sure to pack plenty of mosquito repellent and/or DEET insect repellent. There is no vaccination for malaria, so malaria tablets are recommended when traveling outside of Yangon and Mandalay. You should procure plenty of antimalarial tablets before entering the country. In addition, if you are regularly taking medication for an illness or disease then make sure to bring plenty with you when you travel in Myanmar. Some pharmacies in Yangon carry generics but the quantity and quality vary.
Other Non-Vaccine Preventable Diseases: In addition to Malaria, mosquitos are known to carry Chikungunya Fever and Dengue Fever. To prevent these diseases, use copious amounts of DEET and mosquito repellent. Wearing long-sleeve T-shirts and pants with socks and shoes greatly reduce the risk of catching either of these ailments. Tuberculosis poses a small risk for tourists as does H5N1 Avian Influenza (commonly-referred to as Bird Flu) which affected Asia over the past decade.
HIV/AIDS: HIV/AIDS is a disease recognized by the Burmese Ministry of Health as a ‘serious concern.’ About 1.3% of Myanmar’s 50 million-plus population is infected and according to the National AIDS Programme Burma abou 32% of sex workers and 43% of intravenous drug users in Myanmar have HIV. UNAIDS believes the epidemic is waning as they have measured several key indicators predicting this.
The United States Embassy in Rangoon (Yangon) continuously maintains a list of local hospitals and “assumes no responsibility for the professional ability or reputation of the medical facilities whose names appear on the list.” This is a smart move given what we’ve covered above! You can find the here: Local hospitals list (PDF 105KB); PDF files require Adobe Acrobat Reader to view. Download the reader at the Adobe website.
Recommended Clinics in Yangon
1. International SOS Clinic Yangon
Inya Lake Resort, 37 Kaba Aye Pagoda Road
Phone: +95 1 657 922
24-hour hotline (English): +65 6338 7800
24-hour hotline (Japanese): +65 6446 3080
2. Parami International Clinic and ER
No. 60 G-1 New Parami Road, Mayangone Township
Phone: (95-1) 657227, 660083, 657226, 657228, 657230, 657231,
Fax: (95-1) 657223
Hot Line: (95-1) 651674
3. Australian Embassy Medical Clinic and Dental Surgery
Unit 206, Golden Hill Tower, 24-26 Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, Bahan Township
Phone: (01) 558353
Fax: (01) 558358
Email: Mark.Hampson@dfat.gov.au or: firstname.lastname@example.org
Private Hospitals in Yangon
1. Academy Private Hospital
335 Lower Kyee Myin Daing Road, Htar Nar Ward
Phone: (01) 229746
2. Asia Pacific Medical Centre
81 Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, Bahan Township
Phone: (01) 548022, (01) 553783 or 098030847
3. Asia Royal General Hospital
14 Baho Street, Sanchaung Township
Phone: (01) 538055
4. Pun Hlaing International Hospital
Pun Hlaing Golf Estate Avenue, Hlaing Thayar Township
Phone: (01) 684323
Recommended Clinics in Mandalay
1. Mandalay Children’s Hospital
Corner of 30th Street and 74th Street
Tel: (02) 21508
2. Mandalay General Hospital
30th Street between 74th, Street & 77th Street, Mandalay, Myanmar
Tel: (02) 21041
3. Mandalay Orthopedic Hospital
On 30th Street between 74th Street and 77th Street
Tel: (02) 21511
Sources: Stats courtesy of Forbes.com; hospital locations via the U.S. Embassy Rangoon