Skincare and health system
Healthcare in Myanmar is one of the poorest in the world, ranking 190/191 for the overall health system performance as assessed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1997; the government spent 2.3% of the country’s GDP on healthcare in 2014, compared to 3.7% in Thailand – one of the neighbouring countries of Myanmar and 9.8% in the UK in 2014.
Despite the healthcare improvements from 2011-2021 under the NLD party, resources and specialist dermatology services remained extremely limited. There are only three dermatology training and secondary/tertiary care centres in the country – two in Yangon (previously Rangoon) – the economic capital in the South, and one in Mandalay, the country’s second largest city located in central Myanmar. The two dermatology centres in Yangon are based at the Yangon General Hospital (YGH) at University of Medicine (UM) 1 in downtown Yangon, acknowledged as the main dermatology training centre in Myanmar; and North Okkalapa General Hospital (NOGH) at UM2 in the north of Yangon. The dermatology centre in Mandalay – Mandalay General Hospital (MGH), based at UM Mandalay (UMM) serves as the main dermatology centre for people from Northern and Central Myanmar. Beyond these two cities, consultant dermatologists provide services in the larger towns and cities only, usually working alone without any junior doctor or nursing support. There are fewer than 100 dermatologists for a population of 55 million people. In some urban areas, a general physician would be responsible for all medical patients including those with dermatological problems and emergencies. For instance, in the Southernmost town in Myanmar – Kawthaung – a 100-bedded township general hospital has only one general physician for a population of half a million. People with skin problems living in rural areas usually must travel for hours and sometimes days to reach the nearest dermatology centre. The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study estimated that in 2010, an average of 496 years was lost due to disability per 100,000 population in Myanmar because of non-fatal skin disease (Hay et al. 2014). However, there are virtually no data on the epidemiology of skin diseases in Myanmar.