The Health Systems Strengthening Project is a network of ethnic and community health organisations who are working together to strengthen health systems in Eastern Burma, and to advocate for equitable and essential primary health services for vulnerable and displaced people throughout Burma. HSS members provide comprehensive health programmes in their local areas through a collaborative approach with local, national, international and government bodies. HSS members are working towards an improved health system, that is decentralized, where the work of existing ethnic and community health organisations is accredited and an integral part of a Federal Health System.
Health Systems Strengthening (HSS) Consortium Members
(1) Karen Department of Health and Welfare (KDHW)
The Karen Department of Health and Welfare (KDHW) was established to provide primary health care to all people living in Karen state. From 1991 to 1997, the KDHW administered hospitals and clinics in all seven districts of Karen state, but the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) offensive of 1997 decimated most of their health care infrastructure. In response, KDHW organized the first mobile health clinic in 1998. Together with the Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People (CIDKP) and the Backpack Health Worker Team (BPHWT), KDHW established additional mobile health clinics each subsequent year and is now returning to fixed clinic structures.
(2) The Mae Tao Clinic (MTC)
The MTC is a community-based organization operating along the Thai-Burma border. It was formed in February 1989 to provide primary health care for the displaced Burmese community who were affected by civil war and the desperate socioeconomic situation in Burma. Initially, it was established to provide basic health services, but now it has expanded into being a comprehensive health service provider and training facility. MTC also responds to a variety of community needs including education, women’s empowerment, and child protection.
(3) Back Pack Health Worker Team (BPHWT)
The Backpack Health Worker Team (BPHWT) was established in 1998 by Karenni, Mon and Karen health workers to provide health care to internally displaced persons living along the eastern border of Burma who were affected by decades of civil war. BPHWT aims to improve health for displaced people through the delivery of primary healthcare services and public health promotion. They provide basic medical care, community health education and disease prevention, maternal and child healthcare, and water and sanitation programs.
(4) Burma Medical Association (BMA)
The Burma Medical Association (BMA) was founded in 1991 by a group of health professionals from Burma. BMA is an independent non-profit organization made up of doctors, nurses, and other health professionals. For the past 22 years, BMA has been the leading body for health policy development and capacity building related to the provision of quality health care services in ethnic areas of Burma.
(5) Committee for Health and Development Network (CHDN) (Karenni)
CHDN is a network of six ethnic health and development organisations providing services in Karenni State.
(6) Mon National Health Committee (MNHC)
The Mon National Health Committee (MNHC) is a non-profit health organization founded in 1992 that serves communities along the Thai-Burma border, deeper inside of Mon state and some areas of Karen State and Tenassarim Division. MNHC is the main provider of primary health care to internally displaced persons (IDPs) living along the Thai-Burma border in Mon State and also operates an additional 33 clinics deeper inside Mon State. Annually, MNHC provides health care to approximately 20,000 patients, with a target population of over 60,000 IDPs.
(7) Shan State Development Foundation (SSDF)
The Shan State Development Foundation serves the Shan refugees along the Thai–Shan border and internally displaced Shan villagers inside Shan State. It was founded in 2012 by uniting the Shan Health Committee (founded in 1997), the Shan Education Committee (founded in 2008) and Shan Relief and Development Committee (founded in 1999) under a broader vision. SSDF is committed to creating opportunities for disadvantaged people in Shan State, to be able to fulfil their basic needs and improve their livelihoods. SSDF provides emergency relief assistance, health treatment, education, and community development programs.
(8) Pa-Oh Health Working Committee (PHWC)
The Pa Oh Health Working Committee (PHWC) was formed by Central Health Department of Pa-Oh National Liberation Organization (PNLO) on 21st September 2013. PHWT provides health services in Pa Oh areas with the support of the Back Pack Health Worker Team (BPHWT).