Health and human rights in eastern Myanmar after the political transitionWARNING a population-based assessment using multistaged household cluster sampling

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date











© 2015 Parmar et al. Background: Myanmar transitioned to a nominally civilian parliamentary government in March 2011. Qualitative reports suggest that exposure to violence and displacement has declined while international assistance for health services has increased. An assessment of the impact of these changes on the health and human rights situation has not been published. Methods and Findings: Five community-based organizations conducted household surveys using two-stage cluster sampling in five states in eastern Myanmar from July 2013-September 2013. Data was collected from 6, 178 households on demographics, mortality, health outcomes, water and sanitation, food security and nutrition, malaria, and human rights violations (HRV). Among children aged 6-59 months screened, the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (representing moderate or severe malnutrition) was 11.3% (8.0 - 14.7). A total of 250 deaths occurred during the year prior to the survey. Infant deaths accounted for 64 of these (IMR 94.2; 95% CI 66.5-133.5) and there were 94 child deaths (U5MR 141.9; 95% CI 94.8-189.0). 10.7% of households (95% CI 7.0-14.5) experienced at least one HRV in the past year, while four percent reported 2 or more HRVs. Household exposure to one or more HRVs was associated with moderate-severe malnutrition among children (14.9 vs. 6.8%; prevalence ratio 2.2, 95% CI 1.2-4.2). Household exposure to HRVs was associated with self-reported fair or poor health status among respondents (PR 1.3; 95% CI 1.1 - 1.5). Conclusion: This large survey of health and human rights demonstrates that two years after political transition, vulnerable populations of eastern Myanmar are less likely to experience human rights violations compared to previous surveys. However, access to health services remains constrained, and risk of disease and death remains higher than the country as a whole. Efforts to address these poor health indicators should prioritize support for populations that remain outside the scope of most formal government and donor programs.