2012 marks the tenth anniversary of the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund. In honor of this milestone, SRF is celebrating the 500 remarkable scholars from 50 countries who have had the distinction of being awarded SRF fellowships. To raise awareness of the urgent needs of persecuted academics around the world, and the importance of responding in kind, SRF will feature 10 scholars representing the Scholar Rescue Fund’s 10 years of service. News on special anniversary events and publications will also be posted.
Dr. Myint Oo
Dr. Myint Oo has been a medical practitioner and leader in medical ethics training in Burma for over 30 years. His advocacy for a human rights based approach to public health, alongside his outspoken criticism of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) of Burma, subjected him to persistent threats and harassment. He was arrested on three occasions for his services to the underprivileged, for participating in civil protests, and for offering on-site medical assistance to protestors during the 2007 Saffron Revolution, a Monk-led uprising against SPDC policies. From 2006-2009, he collaborated with Dr. Eric Stover from the University of California at Berkeley’s Human Rights Center to document human rights abuses committed by the SPDC. When his advocacy and data collection were reported, Dr. Oo faced increased harassment at his medical clinic and was repeatedly ordered by government officials to end his activities. After secretly leaving Burma in September 2009, he received word that his family was interrogated several times as to his whereabouts.
As a SRF Fellow, Dr. Oo joined the faculty of the Tufts University Department of Health in 2010 and went on to spend a year as a visiting scholar at University College Cork. A prolific writer on public health and frequent commentator on Voice of America, BBC Radio, and Radio Free Asia, Dr. Oo is widely known for his landmark book, Fundamentals of Medical Ethics: General Practitioner’s Manual (2009) and has published over 400 articles in internationally recognized health journals. In 2009, he was a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Washington, D.C, where he conducted research on the adverse effects of authoritarian regimes on public health. He is the recipient of numerous other awards including a Hubert Humphrey Fellowship at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (2003-2004) and an IIE Alumni Impact award (2005) for pioneering a continuing medical education program in Burma.
After receiving his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (M.B., B.S) from the Institute of Medicine 1 (1979), he served as the Chief Medical Officer and Managing Director of the Win General Clinic (1979-2009), a privately operated rural health clinic. During the same time period he led a number of public health initiatives, including the development of education programs to teach Buddhist monks about monastic leadership in health care and the prevention of diseases, and provided training for local junior health professionals on rural health care. He was one of the lead humanitarian aid coordinators in 2008 after the destruction of Cyclone Nargis, which resulted in approximately 138,000 fatalities throughout rural Burma.
Dr. Oo returned to his home country in the fall of 2011 and has resumed his work with the General Practitioners’ Society as Secretary for the Committee of Ethics. Now, in what Dr. Oo tentatively terms “Burma’s Spring”, he seeks to play an active role in Burma’s journey to the brighter summer he envisions by fostering university networks, helping threatened scholars, expanding health services and establishing a Burmese chapter of Physicians for Human Rights. In a recent visit to Boston and New York to deliver lectures as a recipient of the SRF Hite Lecture Awards, he described himself as having been “born from IIE”, noting that it was through IIE’s fellowships that he was first able to travel outside of Burma and to experience the benefits of international exchange on both personal and broader societal levels.
Celebrating a decade of commitment to rescuing scholars and preserving knowledge.