Flag of Burma (Myanmar)

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 16 million people—almost 30 percent of Burma’s population—could benefit from rehabilitation and assistive technology (AT).

Through the National Health Plan (2017-2021), Burma recognized the need for integrative rehabilitation services and strived for universal health coverage, including strengthening rehabilitation as a crucial element. However, after the military coup in February 2021, the country’s health care system nearly collapsed. Political turmoil and the eruption of violence disrupted services at hospitals and rehabilitation centers, limiting access to services by people who require rehabilitation.

Between May 2022 and September 2023, ReLAB-HS responded to health care challenges in Burma through innovative interventions, improving access to rehabilitation and AT services and strengthening quality and integration processes, benefiting various local organizations and institutions.

Engaging local organizations and rehabilitation professionals within Kawkareik Township in Kayin State, a remote area in Southeast Burma that hosts a significant number of internally displaced persons and other communities in vulnerable situations, ReLAB-HS worked to implement innovative, context-appropriate, and cost-effective interventions to strengthen health systems for the provision of rehabilitation and AT services. Implementing activities from May 2022 to September 2023, ReLAB-HS made the following key contributions toward this effort in Burma:

  • Improved delivery and demand of quality rehabilitation and AT services at the community level
    • With key AT stakeholders identified the main challenges to access and provision of AT services and proposed recommendations to improve AT service delivery
    • With international and local nongovernmental organizations and community-based organizations, identified and shared good practices for successful integration of rehabilitation and AT services into the health system
  • Developed capacity of health system leaders, managers, and providers to deliver rehabilitation and AT
    • Trained community health workers (CHWs) on early rehabilitation for injuries at community and primary care levels, with a focus on how CHWs and volunteers can help improve health outcomes for people in need of rehabilitation and AT
    • Trained ethnic health organizations’ health care workforce on early identification and referral to rehabilitation for adults with neurological conditions and children with developmental disabilities
    • Delivered the clinical skills development program, including online courses via Plus, remote mentoring sessions, and in-person training to help rehabilitation professionals upgrade their clinical skills and improve quality rehabilitation services in the community
    • Delivered the WHO’s Training in Assistive Products (TAP) to CHWs and volunteers, enhancing the participants’ understanding of assistive products, their ability to identify needs for AT in their communities, and their understanding of how and where to refer individuals who require assistive products
    • Refined and shared Burmese-language training materials with local organizations for use in future trainings
    • Facilitated the online “Rehabilitation Support Network of Myanmar” through the Rehabilitation Community Platform to support learning exchanges and coordination among rehabilitation professionals in the country
    • Strengthened leadership capacity of stakeholders across the system through the Global Rehabilitation Leadership Institute
  • Supported the development and implementation of plans and policies for rehabilitation and AT
    • Provided technical support to ensure rehabilitation and AT were included in Burma’s 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan
    • Co-developed a guidance note with local ethnic health organizations that includes recommendations to incorporate rehabilitation and AT services into their strategies


As a result of ReLAB-HS’s contributions to date:

  • Over 3,250 more people have improved access to rehabilitation and AT services.
  • Over 750* trainings on rehabilitation and AT have been completed.
  • 7 rehabilitation and AT quality and integration processes have been strengthened.
  • 23 organizations and institutions have been strengthened.

* Reflects the number of course completions, as trainees may have completed one or more courses