Information by Country

Myanmar: Background

This map does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory or the delimitation of any frontiers.
Myanmar is one of the largest countries in South East Asia. Ethnically diverse, Myanmar is a nation of many races - some 130 ethnic groups make up its population of nearly 45 million. The majority of Myanmar's people are Bamars (from which the British coined the name Burma), but the Shan, Kachin, Kayin, Mon, Rakhine and others are also prominent throughout the country.

A general economic downturn in the ASEAN region combined with natural disasters and poor economic policies have resulted in an economic downturn in Myanmar. There are disparities between children in different areas of the country as well. The overall situation of children in major towns tends to be considerably better than in rural and urban resettlement areas.

In the most remote border areas, some ethnic communities have virtually no public services because of armed conflicts and problems of accessibility. According to World Bank estimates, approximately one in four households in Myanmar live below the poverty line.

However, despite a long period of relative isolation and other political constraints, Myanmar possesses good technical capacity and can successfully undertake major initiatives when there are clear objectives and high-level commitment and support, combined with national mobilization and adequate resources. Examples of these are the National Sanitation Weeks, National Immunization Days (NIDs) and efforts to achieve Universal Salt Iodization and vitamin A supplementation, which have significantly advanced the achievement of the World Summit and National Plans of Action goals.

Capacity-building of counterparts is required to improve routine services. Cross-border collaboration, such as the joint planning and implementation of NIDs and surveillance of acute flaccid paralysis (polio) with China, and HIV/AIDS prevention with other Mekong basin countries, has been fruitful. The approach has been adapted and extended for malaria and issues related to child protection in all border areas, particularly in the Mekong sub region.


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