Myint Myint Khin

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 16 September 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5397
  1. Ned Stafford, Hamburg
  1. ns{at}

Legendary Burmese doctor and teacher, and later a poet

In early 1985 Myint Myint Khin was mired in a deep personal crisis. She was devastated by the recent death of her husband of more than 30 years, and her only son was locked up in political detention with no charge and no trial. So at 61 years of age, after 19 years of chairing the department of medicine at the University of Medicine in Mandalay, she retired early and left Burma.

Her first stop was as consultant at the National University of Malaysia. After a few months she was named as consultant in the World Health Organization’s Southeast Asia regional office in New Delhi, India, where she spent nearly seven years. During those grieving years she began writing English language poetry, often focusing on her departed husband. In one, she writes:

But close to my heart is a treasure trove,

To draw upon if I chose

Happiness shared, joys that glow

And tenderness, I only know

“I wrote poems because I could not bear not to write them,” Myint Myint Khin said in a newspaper interview in March 2013, when her book of collected poems, Poetry For Me, was unveiled at a ceremony at the Myanmar Medical Association in Rangoon, Burma.1 Writing poetry, she said, was an outlet for her “sentimental and emotive” side, a part of her personality that …

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