Myanmar (Formerly Burma)
Myanmar is a nation of 60 million people situated in South Asia. It is located east of India, south of China and west of Thailand. The majority of citizens live in rural areas where agriculture is the dominant industry. Although most Burmese practise Buddhism, there is ethnic, cultural and religious diversity. Myanmar has been through a significant reform in the last several years, transitioning to the current democratically elected government in 2011.
Once rarely considered as a holiday destination, Myanmar is currently going through a boom in tourism, which has stimulated new developments in hotels, transport and amenities. With the lifting of trade embargo, Myanmar is also attracting much interest from international investors. There is a great deal of development work to be done throughout the country, and this includes the healthcare sector.
Myanmar has one of the highest blindness prevalence rates in the world with 8.1% blindness in rural areas. Blindness is caused by cataracts (64%), glaucoma (17%), trachoma (4%) and other causes (15%). Myanmar has 40.4% low vision rate in rural areas of which 70% is due to cataracts.
Only 300 ophthalmologists service this population, which has a current backlog of 600,000 cataract operations. Less than a half of the practising ophthalmologists perform surgery, with the majority servicing only the two largest cities. (In contrast Australia has approximately 800 ophthalmologists for a population of 22 million).