The dawn of family medicine in Myanmar

The local perspective

We, Myanmar GPs believe that we will achieve our target to establish the College of Family Physicians of Myanmar (CoFPM) in the very near future because of the assistance of our global partners and the enthusiasm and endless effort of Myanmar GPs.
[Global partners: WONCA, ARPaC (ASEAN Regional Primary Care Physicians Organization), GHETS (Global Health for Education and Training), Boston University Family Medicine Global Health Collaborative, RCGP-UK, DFiD-British Embassy, Chevron Corporation, University of California (San Francisco), Medicine and Beyond (USA)]
We had never seen such strongly motivated and energetic Myanmar GPs, as those who participated in the first International Seminar on Family Medicine Development in Myanmar, from February 11 to 15, 2014, in Yangon. Is it due to inspiration of the global leaders in Family Medicine which met with the family medicine spirit of Myanmar GPs?

At the first morning session of the seminar highlighted Myanmar GPs as invaluable partners of MOH (Myanmar) in an opening remark by Myanmar Medical Association President, Prof Rai Mra, on behalf of the Myanmar Health Authority. The British Ambassador (Myanmar) His Excellency Andrew Patrick addressed the willingness of the United Kingdom to support the improvement of Myanmar primary care and Myanmar GPs.

Prof Amanda Howe (RCGP & Wonca, President Elect) and Prof Garth Manning (CEO, WONCA) clarified the role of Family Medicine in Primary Care and its relevance to national health systems in their keynote speeches. The key theme of FM development, primary care and health system reform in Myanmar was addressed in a round-table discussion from which the audience of GPs from the Myanmar GP Society (MMA-GPS) gained greater insight into the needs for FM in Myanmar.

Dr Tin Aye, immediate past president of the Myanmar GPs society (MMA-GPS) and one of the key organisers of the international seminar, told me that he had never seen such meaningful family medicine round-table discussion in his life in Myanmar.

The afternoon session of the first day began with Global History of Family Medicine presented by Prof Stephen Cumming (GHETS & Boston University). Then, the presentations on the overview of family medicine training in USA (Prof Laura Goldman), UK (Dr Richard Young), Malaysia (Prof Daniel Thuraiappah), Thailand (Dr Garth Manning), and Vietnam (Prof Stephen Cummings) as well as ARPaC initiatives (Prof Zorayda ‘Dada’ Leopando). We offer our sincere thanks to all speakers for sharing their regional and global family medicine experiences with Myanmar GPs which encouraged us to work hard for family medicine development in Myanmar.

Photo: Dr Tin Myo Han (right) with Prof Laura Goldman

The Strategic plan and organization of CoFP (Myanmar) were presented by Dr Tin Aye and Dr Christoph Gelsdorf, an honorary member of MMA-GPS and one of key resource persons of establishment of CoFP (Myanmar) in order to get valuable suggestions from the international family medicine experts.

The International Forum for Primary Care on the second afternoon, was composed of a health policy seminar and a technical hands-on workshop. A teaching methodology and faculty development workshop was conducted from the second to fifth day of the seminar. The topics presented by international family medicine specialists were teaching and learning methodologies; teaching clinical consultation skills; assessment of lecturers, teachers and curriculum; and designing a teaching session.

Photo: At the clinic of Dr Win Lwin Thein (vice -president of MMA-GPS); he and Dr Richard Young (UK) in front, mentors to three Myanmar GPs.

Interactive small group workshop activities were also conducted at 8-10 selected Myanmar GPs’ clinics in the evenings. The Myanmar family physicians/GPs who were the host clinic owners of the teaching practicum sessions had to continue their practices until midnight as they missed their morning practices because of participating in the wonderful family medicine teaching methodology workshop. Regardless they maintained their smiling and satisfied faces. It indicates that how keen they were to learn family medicine and its teaching methodology.

Thus, we wish to share our happiness and experiences on family medicine development in a developing country like Myanmar, with colleagues who are still struggling for it in their own countries like us.

We would like to express our heart-felt gratitude to all global family medicine leaders and partners for their technical, financial and spiritual support at this successful International Seminar on Family Medicine Development in Myanmar. It would have been impossible to conduct this international seminar successfully without contribution of its organisers, secretariats, all participants and their family members.

Dr Tin Myo Han,
Secretary of International Relations, Myanmar General Practitioners’ Society

The visitor's perspective

Prof Daniel Thuraiappah, Chair of the WONCA Working Party on Quality and Safety visited Myanmar for this meeting and reports on his perspectives and practice visits in Yangon. His full report is available at the link below but a taste of it follows:

The practices visited were either solo practices, partnerships or polyclinics. All the three types of clinics visited were operating for at least 14 or 16 hours a day and the polyclinic was open for 24 hours. The solo clinic provides basic consultation and dispensing services with minimal screening services....

The second clinic visited was a partnership of two doctors with a fully equipped clinic with a good consultation room, with a desk top, closed circuit television to view the waiting room and the dispensary. They had the help of medical officers and specialists who did sessions in the clinic. The main staff was a retired nurse and a male attendant and three clinic assistants. It had a toilet and basic dipstick testing equipment. He had an ECG machine, and a X-ray viewing box. At the time of the visit he had a 19-year old boy who had newly diagnosed tuberculosis in his left apex....

The fifth visit was to a new facility being developed for a pathology laboratory being set up by two lady pathologists who have returned from abroad. The day after meeting they were off to Germany and France to purchase all their latest laboratory equipment. The location of their facility is about 100 meters from the Yangon General Hospital in order to augment the hospital services and also to service local clinics. It is located opposite another pathology laboratory because the demand for such services is increasing daily...

  see Prof Thuraiappah's full report