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Health and Security

Health and Security

The quality of health care in Myanmar is generally poor. Routine advice and treatment are available in Yangon and Mandalay but elsewhere the hospitals often lack basic supplies, and some suffer under corrupt administrations. Avoid surgery and dental work, as hygiene standards cannot be relied upon; if you are seriously ill then contact your embassy for advice, and expect international-quality care to be expensive (and possibly to require payment up front). As always, it is important to travel with insurance covering medical care, including emergency evacuation.

HEALTH

No vaccination is required, but visitors are advised to receive inoculations against hepatitis A & B, typhoid and tetanus.

There are hospitals and clinics in cities and larger towns, and regional health centres in outlying areas, although the quality of healthcare is generally low in Myanmar. Many hospitals lack basic equipment and medication, a situation not helped by high levels of corruption, and international-standard facilities are both scarce and expensive. Health insurance covering medical evacuation is strongly recommended. It is advisable to carry a remedy against minor stomach upsets and other basic illnesses. Pharmacists sell most medicines without prescription.

 

SECURITY

Very few foreign tourists are victims of crime in Myanmar, possibly because the penalties for stealing from tourists are severe. There are, however, occasional reports of opportunistic theft such as of cameras left charging on ferries while the owners wander the decks.

Although the government is engaged in conflict with ethnic resistance groups in several parts of the country, if there’s any danger in an area then it will be closed to foreigners both for their protection and to keep the violence hidden away from international attention. No resistance groups have been known to target tourists.

Although the quasi-civilian government inaugurated in 2011 has taken steps to reduce censorship and released some political prisoners, Myanmar is still far from being a place where freedom of speech can be taken for granted and violence is still regularly used against dissenters and protesters. It is still therefore wise to avoid raising political topics in conversation, as local people can be nervous about finding themselves in trouble; let them take the lead, and be discreet. Also think twice before taking photographs of bridges, police stations and anywhere else where doing so might be considered a security risk.

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