On This Day

Daw Saw Hsa, Myanmar’s First Female Surgeon and Lawmaker

By The Irrawaddy 28 February 2019

Today marks the 57th anniversary of the death of Daw Saw Hsa, Myanmar’s first female surgeon and lawmaker. She received her F.R.C.S from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 1912, when doctors were rare in Myanmar, and completed a diploma course in public health at the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland.

Born in 1884, she was also the first female lawmaker in the Upper House of Parliament, appointed by the governor of British Burma, and the first female member of the Yangon municipal committee. She was named a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

Daw Saw Hsa was known for her hospital for the poor in Yangon’s Sanchang Township from 1922 to 1940, and for the health care services she provided leprosy patients in Minbu in central Myanmar and war victims in Bago Region during World War II.

Her book “Manual for Midwives” became a seminal contribution to the field. Before and after independence, she worked with several committees and organizations serving leprosy patients, orphans and women.

“Daw Saw Hsa was very patient. She treated patients more with love and kindness than medicines,” said one relative.

Never married, Daw Saw Hsa died on Feb. 28, 1962, at the age of 78.

by Wei Yan Aung