DFID’s health programmes in Burma

Burma is one of the poorest countries in Asia, with significant health need and challenges of access and capacity. We examine DFID’s £110 million health spending in Burma over 2010-15.

Score: Green
  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 16 July 2013
  3. Type: Other
  4. Subject: Country focus, Global health
  5. Assessment: Green
  6. Location: Burma, Thailand
  7. Lead commissioner: Mark Foster

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Our review concluded the Department for International Development (DFID) has designed and delivered an appropriate health aid programme in a country where there is significant health need and where there are significant challenges of access and capacity. As a result of our findings we awarded a green score and made four recommendations.


DFID has demonstrated clear leadership in working well with intended beneficiaries, other donors, delivery partners and the Government of Burma’s Ministry of Health. The health programmes have addressed many health needs, although demonstrating the impact of DFID’s health programmes has been difficult given the lack of good data in Burma.

The intended beneficiaries that we met in Burma, including people living in the Irrawaddy Delta and intravenous drug users suffering from HIV/AIDS, supported the view that the programmes have had a positive impact.

The lifting of sanctions and a changing political environment present significant opportunities for DFID Burma to have more impact in addressing the health needs of the Burmese people. We have made recommendations on how DFID’s programmes should respond in order to build on the successes to date.

We have found that DFID’s health programmes in Burma are well considered, in the face of a challenging environment, with a real prospect of sustainable outcomes. We commend DFID Burma for its leadership in driving forward health programmes and their work with the Government of Burma during a difficult period.


  1. DFID should leverage its relationship with the Ministry of Health and its experience in Burma to date to focus the in-flows of health aid and accelerate the building of a more robust health system, including better integration of the for-profit sector.
  2. DFID should work with other donors and the Ministry of Health to capture better quality information about the health sector in Burma and to create stronger and more robust monitoring systems and data baselines across key health programme areas.
  3. DFID should work with all parties to ensure the potential risks of the 3MDG Fund programme are identified and addressed, including management of the UNOPS contract, to ensure that the Fund is mobilised, executed and monitored effectively.
  4. DFID should ensure that, at this crucial time in developing its health programme in Burma, the impact of key personnel changes in the DFID office is minimised, including the timing of staff transfers and the development of a robust plan to ensure that key relationships are maintained.


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Review publication

Published 16 July 2013

Government response

Published 9 August 2013

ICAI follow-up

Published 18 June 2015