Transformative Education
for Health Professionals

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Myanmar’s Health Assistants: Serving the Rural Communities

Nay Soe Maung MBBS, MPH, DipMedEd, Htin Zaw Soe MBBS, DFT, MMedSc (P & TM), PhD, DipMedEd, Nadia Cobb, MS, PA-C

Myanmar is one of the low-income countries in Asia with population of about 51.42 million. It was ranked 149 among 186 nations in 2013 in the Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Program.  It is the largest country in South-East Asia. The physician ratio per 1,000 people was estimated in 2014 to be 0.7 with much 70% of the population in rural areas, where the physicians are not. In 1953 the Health Assistant profession was established to increase access to care in the rural areas.

Full project description: 

The wide ranging health care provider shortage in Myanmar was a driving force in 1953 to create a new health worker. The Health Assistant is a medical provider, trained in an accelerated model to serve the primary care needs of the rural health centers. As close to  70% of the population live in rural areas, this workforce has been proven as a vital part of the health workforce; increasing access to care with a focus on Primary Care at the community level. They are not allowed to practice in private clinics.

The Myanmar Health Assistant Association states their objectives are to:

  • “Improve health of disadvantaged communities
  • prevent and control incidence of communicable diseases
  • network and collaborate with stakeholders involved in health related programs
  • promote Primary Health Care intervention especially in hard to reach areas
  • promote health knowledge to communities, raise health awareness among vulnerable communities
  • to promote and increase the knowledge and practice of hygiene and sanitation. “

There are two tracks - the Condensed Health Assistant has a one year intensive training. This consists of 9 months of didactic training, 2 months bedside/ hospital training and 1 month of field and research training. The HA that has a Bachelor of Community Health (B.Comm.H) has 4 years of training, 3 months in hospitals and 2 months in research and field activities. The oversight of the curriculum is through the Department of Medical Science and University of Community Health, Magway.

The Myanmar Health Assistant Association is engaged with local and international partners (UNICEF, SAve the Children- Myanmar, CDC, USAID)  to bring to the communities TB, malaria and other health programs. 

The governing/ regulatory bodies of the practicing Health Assistant are the Department of Health, Ministry of Health, with the close supervision of the Township Department where they are working.

Currently there are about 1,800 Health Assistants and 365 Health Assistants (Grade I) in Government posts. There are 96 Township Health Assistants who are gazetted officers.  There are approximately 250 working with International Non-Governmental Agencies and the Myanmar Health Assistant Association.



Health in Myanmar (2014): http;//


Photo Credit: Myanmar Health Assistant Association /CAP Malaria Project

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