In 1937 the Muslim Free Hospital was established in Rangon, Burma. It was created by a group of Muslim leaders to care for the poor of Rangoon that had no other access to medical care. The initial investment came entirely from Muslims.
The Muslim Free Hospital still exists and is still funded by the donations of Muslims of Myanmar. Burma received a name change in 1988 and is now called Myanmar. Rangoon received a name change and is now called Yangon. However, the mission of the Muslim Free Hospital has not changed.
From to the beginning the hospital did not discriminate on the basis of religion, ethnic group, or income. The Muslims of Myanmar have been and still are paying for the medical care of poor Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, or member of any religion.
It is particularly remarkable that this is occurring in Myanmar. Muslims are a minority in Myanmar, about 4% of the population. Many Muslims in Myanmar live in fear. Violence against peaceful Muslims is on the increase. Militant Buddhist monks openly incite violence against Muslims. In parts of Myanmar businesses and homes are burned. Muslims are killed. Buddhist monks openly ask all Muslims to leave their country and call them animals. A 2013 Time Magazine article describes the terror being created by a Buddhist monk in Mandalay. Since that article the situation continues to worsen.
Yet, the Muslim Free Hospital continues to offer care for the Buddhist majority free of charge without complaint. The Muslim Free Hospital has no political agenda.
This tolerance of religious diversity is also displayed in the employees of the Muslim Free Hospital. Muslim, Buddhist, and Christian doctors and nurses all work together with respect.
The quantity and quality of care given with the hospital's limited resources would be unimaginable in the United States. Muslims in Myanmar donate $400,000 a year. If the patients have money they pay what they can. If they have no money they pay nothing.
The outpatient clinics care for 450 outpatients a day. The hospital has 160 beds. In the year 2000, a year for which there are statistics, there were approximately 6000 cared for as inpatients. The hospital has medical, surgical, maternity, and a special unit for eye patients. Currently an average of 220 deliveries occur a month. The hospital has x-ray facilities, pharmacy, ultrasound unit, and operating rooms.
There are a total of 45 doctors working and donating time to the hospital.
In a complicated world with horrendous events occurring daily its nice to see one shining light coming from a group only concerned with helping others. It is also a reminder to never over generalize.
Stephen Wallace, M.D., J.D.