THE PEOPLE OF 2004
covering burma and southeast asia
Monday, October 14, 2019
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THE PEOPLE OF 2004


By The Irrawaddy DECEMBER, 2004 - VOLUME 12 NO.11


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(Page 9 of 25)

Years have gone, too long to count.”

 

Scholar________________________________

Prof Dr Myint Myint Khin

 

Although she turned 80 in December, 2004, Myint Myint Khin is still very active in speaking on, and writing about, urgent health issues, particularly HIV/AIDS.

 

Prof Dr Myint Myint KhinHer book, “The Bells Tolling for Everyone”, published in the 1990s, contained a strong warning about the menace of HIV/AIDS in Burma and called for serious attention to be paid to it.

 

Estimates put the Burmese HIV infection rate at up to four percent, but Myint Myint Khin is reluctant to comment on the figures. “Since we have difficulty in conducting a systematic survey in ethnic and border areas, where the disease is widespread, I am afraid of giving any confirmation of current statistics,” she says.

 

She stresses the paramount importance of  “general education” in the campaign to combat HIV/AIDS. Literacy among women should be particularly encouraged, she maintains. “The literacy rate among women influences a household’s health and even life style. You ought to invest in women.”

 

In her book, Myint Myint Khin says health education requires “openness and transparency…the beginning of secrecy is the end of the truth.”

 

And she adds: “We have to recognize first that there is a problem and then figure out how to resolve it. You can’t deny the epidemic by saying that it is no way possible in Burmese or Asian culture, and it is coming from western countries. This makes the problem worse.”

 

Myint Myint Khin calls on the British writer George Orwell (author of “1984” and “Animal Farm” and a former colonial official in Burma) to illustrate her point: “When I talk about the importance of freedom, I always quote George Orwell when he said ‘Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.’”

 

NGOs and other experts tackling the HIV/AIDS problem in Burma lacked enough working space, says Myint Myint Khin, while international aid could only be effective in circumstances where freedom of expression is allowed.

 

Myint Myint Khin was professor at Mandalay’s Institute of Medicine from 1960 until her retirement in 1984.



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