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Posted On: 18 December 2013 02:07 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:13 pm

Nobel laureate calls for adding spiritual dose in healthcare

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Nobel Peace Prize winner and Myanmmar’s National League for Democracy Chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi yesterday called on world’s healthcare leaders and policy-makers to view innovation in healthcare from the spiritual stand point. “The kind of innovative healthcare to which I look forward is the one rooted in human values and in spirituality which will help us come together as we move forward into the 21st century,” she said during a keynote address at the World Innovation Summit on Health (WISH). “Please do not look at healthcare innovation only in terms of technology, training and medical education, but in terms of poor society, nurturing to the basics towards creating a healthy society in the best sense of the word. It is only in this way that we can be sure that our world which is getting smaller by the day will be the happier place for all of us to live in,” she urged. “If we can live together in serenity … we will be providing our people with the best healthcare possible. We need the basic material and necessity to shape this, but we also need a kind of spiritual value that will ensure that we build a healthy society,” she said, adding: “Globalisation meant that we can’t get away from one another and that means we have to learn to live with one another in harmony, in a state of mutual respect and understanding.” While sharing personal experiences of her mother, who despite opposition from her own parents, became successful as a compassionate and kind nurse, Suu Kyi said healthcare should mean a profession done out of total commitment and devotion to the needs and desire of patients. “Good health is the best fortune you can get … healthcare is about caring and without caring, healthcare will not have a meaning,” she observed. She recalled how Burma used to boast of the best healthcare system in their region saying: “We inherited a good healthcare system from the colonial era and after the independence, our governments built on that legacy and made the healthcare in Burma one of the best in the region.” “But after the military regime came to power in the 1960s, that good legacy filtered away and now we are one of the countries in the world with the poorest healthcare system,” she lamented. However, Suu Kyi stressed that Burma still produces the best clinicians and provides training geared towards producing the kind of clinicians who can counsel their patients and make good use of the resources at their disposal while adding that the Burmese nurses are known to be particularly patient, kind and compassionate. Suu Kyi, who is a determined advocate for democracy, dignity and human rights for the people of Burma said: “My country is starting out on a new journey, a new culture and what we want to do is not simply to build a democratic or political system but to create a new culture of democracy because for democracy to become deeply-rooted it has to be a culture and part of that has to be of utmost value full of compassion and wisdom as only compassion and wisdom combined can lead us to a country in which we can feel secured and happy.” She stressed that Burma is a poor country but blessed with many natural resources and that the country is striving to harness all those resources to build a country in which people can all live in happiness and peace. “Our most valuable resource is our human resources and it is our people and not our natural resources or extractive industries that will make Burma once again a great country that will be recognised as progressive, as innovative and world leading in caring for its people,” she noted. “Healthcare in Burma has been in a poor shape for many decades. Our people suffer, not just from lack of material resources but the lack of good administrative personnel. This is what comes from the 50 years of dictatorship and yet, we still think that we can be a country where everybody is entitled to basic healthcare,” she said. Suu Kyi mentioned that due to the high maternal and infant mortality rate in Burma she will be starting a programme on improving the quality of life of Burmese mothers and children for them to carry forth the kind of future she wished for the country. However, she acknowledged that the challenges toward achieving such programmes are many, saying: “I will like to go for healthcare innovation in Burma just like Qatar did but in a different way … for certain reasons, because Qatar is extremely wealthy and we are very poor.” “I will like to see the kind of healthcare system that is dependent not only on wealth but on values. I will like to transform the healthcare of our country, we can start from scratch and that is a great advantage in many ways,” she added.