Lovingkindness in Medical Professionalism Focus of Academic Exchange
The Buddhist metta (lovingkindness), and karuna (compassion) are part of daily life for many in Myanmar. Integrating these principles systemically into that country’s medical teaching was the focus an academic exchange in November 2012. A team of four faculty members from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health gathered in Yangon with the country’s public health officials and 100 faculty members for five days of workshops and site visits.
“At every level…we found officials eager to provide compassionate care to their people and to do whatever possible to enhance the education of physicians to that end,” wrote Catherine DeAngelis of the Johns Hopkins team in the summary report on the trip.
The workshops also introduced current resources for mental health and substance abuse services in a country where natural disasters and decades of war have left many traumatized and in need of a greater level of care.
Toward enhancing health services with lovingkindess and forgiveness aspects of professionalism, the Johns Hopkins delegation celebrated and met with three of the country’s doctors. All have worked primarily with the poor for years and have overcome personal obstacles to provide health care where it is desperately needed.
· Dr. Tin Nyunt, who worked his way from poverty to medical school and later provided health care kits for 65,000 villages across Myanmar;
· Dr. Ma Thida, who spent years in prison due to her political opposition to the Myanmar government, yet who works as a journalist, educator and surgeon to improve the health of the Burmese people; and
· Dr. Tin Myowin, personal physician to Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s opposition leader for a quarter century.
This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on the Health Professions.