Dr Myint Htwe, Union Minister, Ministry of Health and Sports, on responding to the challenges of a fast-changing sector: Viewpoint

Dr Myint Htwe, Union Minister, Ministry of Health and Sports

Viewpoint: Dr Myint Htwe

The slogan of the National League for Democracy is “Time for Change”. This is the current theme of the country from several perspectives, and health is no exception. As per this slogan, we should not be afraid of changing things at any level, whether it be technical, administrative, managerial or logistical, because such changes will enable us to improve our health services. We must strategise ways to develop the sector and benefit the entire population of our country.

The health sector is facing increased demand and is changing fast. There are many challenges facing us, and some of them will be unexpected and sudden. If we are not observant and do not adapt to the changing situation by modifying or improving the way we work, plan, manage, assess and collaborate, we will not be able to improve the health of the population. We will, therefore, not be able to attain our objectives.

Therefore, we will prioritise innovative thinking and practise epidemiological thinking. Under this new management, if there is a strong indication that changes should be made in administrative, managerial, logistical or technical matters, we should not hesitate to act. But changes should be bounded by a certain set of realistic criteria and rules. We will not make alterations haphazardly.

As we go along, we will streamline our programmes and activities in a systematic manner so that they will serve our population efficiently and effectively. All suggestions and input will be treated equally in terms of importance and taken care of to the largest possible extent. We will devise mechanisms so that all suggestions and voices can be heard. We should always envision the face of the people, note the plight of the people and think from the perspectives of the people when providing health services or sports and physical education services. Our focus of attention should be on the population that we are serving. I will consult with my senior team to make this happen at all levels of the health system as a matter of routine habit. Ignoring suggestions given by team members and citizens will defeat our purpose. We will make a combined effort to address constructive criticisms. Generally, people are reluctant or uncomfortable with receiving criticism. In fact, constructive criticism is good for the recipient.

We will change our mindset in line with current affairs or demands. To change our mindset overnight is impossible; however, if the majority is changing, that can help push our mindset in the right direction. Senior professionals, including myself, have to lead by example and act selflessly to become role models and encourage others to follow suit. Otherwise, there will be a vicious cycle, and we will never achieve our common objective of improving the health of the population on our way to attaining universal health coverage.

Here, I am referring to mindsets in terms of sense of responsibility, sense of accountability, spirit of collaboration and coordination, spirit of positive attitude and positive thinking, unbiased decision-making, team spirit and team approach, supporting and respecting each other, fact-finding rather than outright fault-finding, giving sincere suggestions, ideas and advice in a constructive manner, and considering people-centred approaches. In addition, we must initiate good ethical practices by applying the principles of public health ethics, medical ethics, research ethics and sports ethics, to mention just a few.

Achieving this is a tall order, but we all have to try our best as we go along. We will strive to achieve these conditions as far as possible and as soon as possible. Furthermore, together with the senior professionals of the ministry, we will facilitate and promote development as we go along.

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The Report: Myanmar 2017

Health & Education chapter from The Report: Myanmar 2017

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This article is from the Health & Education chapter of The Report: Myanmar 2017. Explore other chapters from this report.

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