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Myanmar's Health Infrastructure

The Evolving Context for Foreign Engagement



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Myanmar's Health Infrastructure (PDF)
Benjamin Shobert
Rubicon Strategy Group

On May 22, 2013, NBR hosted an interactive roundtable breakfast discussion with Benjamin Shobert, Founder and Managing Director of Rubicon Strategy Group. Benjamin had recently conducted a healthcare survey in two major cities in Myanmar.

From 1962-2010, Myanmar was a closed country under military rule. Once Asia's wealthiest nation, it is now one of its poorest, despite having abundant natural resources.

Background on healthcare in Myanmar:

  • Lack of government investment in healthcare, coupled with foreign sanctions that—along with the military junta—barred NGO provision of health services, left Myanmar's public health system in shambles.
  • The country's healthcare system was ranked the second worst in the world by the WHO in 2000, and in 2009 the government spent the least of any country worldwide on health as a percentage of GDP.
  • But with the dramatic political shift of an elected government in 2010 and the creation of a new constitution, the country and all its systems are liberalizing.
  • The rise of health on the government priority list is opening up new opportunities for foreign engagement.

Key discussion points:

  • What does Myanmar's health system look like now, and how is it changing in the context of such dynamic political changes?
  • How "open" is the country in reality, and how is that openness making an impact on the health system?
  • Do sound distribution channels for pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and diagnostics exist? What about regulation for medical products?
  • What domestic and foreign private players currently have a footprint in the system? How might that footprint shift in the near and long term?
  • Would the country's health system benefit from engagement from more multinational companies?


Benjamin Shobert is the Founder and Managing Director of Seattle-based Rubicon Strategy Group. He is a member of the National Committee on US-China Relations and holds an advisory board seat at Indiana University’s Research Center on Chinese Politics and Business. In 2012, he became a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy.


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