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Evaluation of progress toward universal health coverage in Myanmar: A national and subnational analysis
Authors: Zlatko Nikoloski, Alistair McGuire, and Elias Mossialos
Source: PLOS Medicine, DOI:
Topic(s): Health care utilization
Health equity
Wealth Index
Country: Asia
Published: OCT 2021
Abstract: Background: Universal health coverage (UHC) encompasses 2 main components: access to essential healthcare services and protection from financial hardship when using healthcare. This study examines Myanmar’s efforts to achieve UHC on a national and subnational level. It is a primer of studying the concept of UHC on a subnational level, and it also establishes a baseline for assessing future progress toward reaching UHC in Myanmar. Methods and findings: The study uses the Demographic and Health Survey (2015) and the Myanmar Living Conditions Survey (MLCS; 2017) and adapts a previously developed UHC index to provide insights into the main barriers preventing the country’s progress toward UHC. We find a negative correlation between the UHC index and the state/region poverty levels. The equity of access analysis reveals significant pro-rich inequity in access to all essential healthcare services. Socioeconomic status and limited availability of healthcare infrastructure are the main driving forces behind the unequal access to interventions that are crucial to achieving UHC by 2030. Finally, financial risk protection analysis shows that the poor are less likely to use healthcare services, and, once they do, they are at a greater risk of suffering financial catastrophe. Limitations of this study revolve around its correlational, rather than causal, nature. Conclusions: We suggest a 2-pronged approach to help Myanmar achieve UHC: Government and state authorities should reduce the financial burden of seeking healthcare, and, coupled with this, significant investment in and expansion of health infrastructure and the health workforce should be made, particularly in the poorer and more remote states.