Burma: The 'self-inflicted doctor shortage'

Patients wait to see a doctor at a Rangoon hospital Doctor shortages left patients with long waits for treatment

Burma contributed to its shortage of doctors by "blacklisting" hundreds of them, often because they refused to move to country areas, it turns out.

During five decades of military rule, more than 6,000 people - including government critics, journalists and public sector workers - were blacklisted, meaning they were deemed a threat to national security and barred from entering or leaving the country. Delhi-based Mizzima News Agency reports that 1,000 doctors, who'd been stripped of their medical licences, were removed from the list on Thursday. It's part of a bid to address "overhaul the long-neglected healthcare system" and address the shortage of medical professionals, according to the Irrawaddy magazine. It quotes a health ministry offical as saying "many more" remain on the list but that they "would be removed in the future".

About a tenth of the doctors were sanctioned early in their careers because they refused postings to rural areas or took leave without permission, the Irawaddy says. Many had travelled abroad and never returned. In some areas of the country, it left as few as six doctors per 100,000 people. The move to reinstate medical licences is the latest in a series of reforms made by the government since the junta ceded power in 2011.

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