On This Day

Myanmar Red Cross Society Turns 82

By Wei Yan Aung 1 April 2019

On this day in 1937, the Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) gained national status when the country was politically separated from colonial India. The MRCS was founded in 1920 as a branch of the Indian Red Cross Society.

The governing body of the MRCS was led by British governor Sir Archibald Douglas Cochrane, and the health minister at the time served as vice chairman. It gained recognition as a national society from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 1939.

After Myanmar gained independence in 1948, Supreme Court Judge U Ba Oo  — who would go on to become the country’s second president — served as chairman of the MRCS, which is dedicated to the rescue and health of people displaced by the civil war.

The headquarters of the MRCS were opened on Strand Road in Yangon under the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League government and remain there to this day.

Myanmar Red Cross member Sai Aung Hlaing Myint was the first person to win the Henry Dunant Medal in Southeast Asia in 1977. He was awarded the medal for rescuing a solider from an icy Irrawaddy River in Kachin State.

To date Myanmar also has four winners of the Florence Nightingale Medal awarded by the ICRC. Chief Nurse Major Khin Ohn Mya was awarded the medal in 1963 for treating Myanmar troops wounded in World War II. Nursing officer Daw M Yaw Nam was awarded the medal in 1993 for treating soldiers wounded in northern Shan State.

Midwife Daw Thein Yi was presented the medal in 2001 for rescuing a child from a burning house. Nurse Sa Naing Naing Tun received the award in 2015 for his efforts to help rebuild the devastated Irrawaddy Delta after Cyclone Nargis in 2008.