Naivety About Public Health in Myanmar

After growing up in a country with good basic public health education, I’ve now realized that a lot of basic public health knowledge is not known everywhere.  Even though I know people are unaware of some of the things they are doing that can easily adversely affect their health, I still can’t help but be grossed out or irritated.  Here are some of the things that I’ve noticed people in Yangon do that completely neglects basic public health measures:

  • Many people either cough or sneeze without covering their mouths or cover their mouths with their hands
  • Many people share utensils all the time or place used utensils into a shared soup
  • Many people will use their personal utensils to get food from a shared curry
  • Many public restrooms do not have soap to wash your hands
  • Many public restrooms do not have a towel or blow dryer to dry your hands so people wipe their wet hands on their clothes
  • Many people skip washing their hands all together
  • Many people are not careful about washing hands or avoiding bodily fluids when around sick people
  • Many people in Yangon are very inactive and there’s no space for people to play sports or run
  • Many people consider eating fried chicken, potatoes, and soda from KFC (or similar fast food chains) as a snack rather than a meal
  • Children (and adults) eat junk food and drink soda very frequently without knowledge about the negative health effects

As a note, these are my observations and in no way extend to the entire population in Yangon.  Luckily, as a middle school teacher with a lot of flexibility in my curriculum, I had a lesson on basic public health measures for my students.  Although, I don’t think one lesson will change many of these behaviors.


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