Burma Medical Association (BMA):

Statement of Burma Medical Association (BMA) First Conference, July 2001

This new millennium brings with it an unprecedented opportunity and challenge to advance the Human Rights to Health for all. Health is a fundamental human right, and a central objective to social development. Numerous global and regional treaties and other instruments have created a new framework for advancing health and the human rights to health, including most recently General comment 14 to Article 12 of the 1966 ICESCR (International Convenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights).

The United Nations and international community has been more concentrate and shown interest on "Preventive Diplomacy". BMA is fully aware and affirmative that "Health" can be used as a tool for preventive diplomacy and also as a bridge for Peace.

All people have the right to the highest attainable standard of health as a prerequisite for the full enjoyment of all other human rights.

Current Condition: Health deprivation in Burma

For more than 50 years, Burma and all its people have never been able to enjoy a decent life with dignity, because of severe political oppression and continued civil strife in the country, especially along the border areas where ethnic communities struggle for their survival and existence.

It has been more than 20 years since the adoption of Declaration of Alma Ata and Burma was a signatory to the Declaration. However, the health status of the people all over Burma remained poor and getting worse day by day as evidenced by,

  • Being categorized as 191st among 192 nations in the world for its poor performance in health care system
  • Increasing incidence of HIV/AIDS
  • One of the world's leading opium producers and the increase in the number of drug users
  • Poor overall health status indicators such as life expectancy, high morbidity and mortality due to diseases that are preventable and treatable
  • Increasing Infant and Maternal Mortality Rate
  • Having a population of more than 3 millions internally displaced people plus immigrants and refugees all along its borders
  • Education: increasing school drop out rate and
  • Lower job opportunity

Inequality and Poverty

Widespread inequality or disparities exist across the country, most notably between Divisions and border States. This is evidenced by Infant Mortality Rate differentials between Sates and Divisions and high prevalence of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDDs) in almost all border states. Burma has the lowest levels of income in Southeast Asia - lower than the income levels of Lao PDR and Cambodia.

Militarism and Ill Health

There has been no attempt by the military regime to deal constructively with the fundamental causes (problems). Hence, people have to live in fear for facing loss of livelihood and home which has had contradictory impact on health.


These responsibilities fall primarily on government authorities and health care professionals. It also requires the commitment of people inside and outside the country. Health is the sum of empowering education, adequate nutrition, safe environment, social support and community cohesion. The greatest challenges facing our ability to promote health is not only medical, but also economic, cultural, environmental, political and social.

Strategies for Action

  1. To implement the basic principles which was laid down by first health conference in October 2000.
    • Disease centered to health centered
    • Reactive-curative to proactive-preventive
    • Working in isolation to multi-sectoral approach
  2. To promote awareness on the fact that discrimination and violation of human rights directly impact on health and well-being
  3. To promote and train to set up documentations on health consequences of human rights violations
  4. To set up health information system
  5. Empowerment - education at the community level so that people will understand the conditions that jeopardize their health.

For more information please contact:

  • Mahn Thar Htoo [Administrative Officer BMA Office] Tel: 66 55 543181
  • Dr Cynthia Maung [Chairperson - BMA] Tel: 66 55 563644 Mobile 66 1 7403121

This statement first appeared on the Burmese American Democratic Alliance [an umbrella activist organization in the San Francisco Bay area] website which no longer seems to be active. Archived material from the BADA website has been edited for inclusion on the Burma Watch International Web site.

Date last changed: 2007 September 25

Burma Watch International, 533 Buchanan Road NW, Edmonton, AB CANADA T6R 2B7
telephone: (780) 439-7555       email: info@burmawatch.org