Karen health officials push for better health care

International health organisations estimate southeastern Burma’s health infrastructure as one of the regions worst with as many as 400,000 people displaced there.

Karen villagers deprived of health care for decades are hoping that following a series of meetings between officials from the Karen Department of Health and Welfare and the government’s Health Directorate for Karen State, plans to deliver the much needed health care will be announced.

The two groups met in Myawaddy on May 23, and agreed to work to find ways to better coordinate healthcare services in Karen State.

Speaking to Karen News, the KDHW chairperson Saw Eh Kalu Shwe Oo said.

“We plan to meet with the Deputy Health Minister from the union level. We will mainly be discussing issues about recognition of our works and how we can cooperate.”

Saw Eh Kalu Shwe Oo added that the agenda for discussion with the government would be based on KDHW’s 10-point policies that include recognition of its health workers working from the Thai-Burma Border, development of health facilities, allocation of human resources and healthcare services.

Saw Eh Kalu Shwe Oo, said that despite the latest meeting with the government being the sixth between KDHW and Karen State Health Department since September 2012, there has not been any real change in term of health care services being provided to people in Karen State.

Saw Eh Kalu Shwe Oo said.

“We’ve had several meeting [at State level] but there hasn’t been any changes on the ground. We hope, if we go the same way as the Karen National Union and government peace implementation process – that is dealing directly with the [government] at the union level, it might speed the process up.”

According to KDHW’s sources, the Burma Deputy Health Minister, Dr Thein Thein Htay and KDHW representatives are scheduled to meet in late June.

The Karen Department of Health and Welfare (KDHW) was formed by the Karen National Union in 1956 to provide and deliver basic healthcare, emergency relief assistance and health education to Karen communities living in Burma and along Thai-Burma Border.

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