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November 5, 2016: Myanmar’s health and sports ministry is warning women not to travel abroad where cases of the Zika virus have been reported, as the country battles its own recent outbreak of the disease.
The ministry issued the warning after the Southeast Asian country confirmed its first case of the virus infection on Oct. 27, when health professionals detected it in a pregnant foreign woman in the commercial capital Yangon.
The ministry has advised Myanmar couples to avoid pregnancy within six months from the date of the announcement.
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“The Zika virus was found only in a foreign pregnant woman but hasn’t spread among the population,” Dr. San Shwe Win, chairman of lower house of parliament’s Health and Sport Committee, told RFA’s Myanmar Service.
“To avoid pregnancy, we can only suggest that couples use contraceptives, but the major problem for Zika is mosquito control,” he said. “That’s why we must mainly work on suppressing mosquitoes. Our teams are monitoring at port entries, such as airports and border gates, checking people as to whether they have fever or not.”
The Zika virus has spread to upwards of 60 countries and territories since the current outbreak was identified as originating in Brazil in 2015.
The mosquito-borne virus, which is spread through bug bites or sexual contact, is an infectious disease that may cause fever, red eyes, joint pain, headache, and a rash. It can also cause the birth defect microcephaly that results in babies born with smaller-than-usual heads and brains.
Earlier this year, the virus made its way to Southeast Asia, hitting Singapore, Vietnam, and Thailand.
‘Mosquitoes are everywhere’
One Myanmar woman who is five months’ pregnant told RFA’s Myanmar Service that she fears her unborn baby could be affected because of the high number of mosquitoes in the country.
“It’s very difficult not to be bitten by mosquitoes in Myanmar because they are everywhere,” said Phyo Phyo Aung, the secretary of All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), the umbrella organization for all student unions in the country.
Phyo Phyo Aung and her husband Lin Htet Naing, vice chairman of the ABFSU, were among the roughly 130 students and their supporters who were detained for participating in protests against a national education law that turned violent in the central Myanmar town of Letpadan in March 2015.
Both were sent to jail, but later released.
“I can only protect myself by applying mosquito repellent, wearing long-sleeved clothing, and not traveling to places where there are lots of mosquitoes,” she said.
Ma Htet, who got married in late October, said she has decided to take the advice of Myanmar’s health and sports ministry and wait six months before conceiving a child.
“Because most concerns about the Zika virus are about the unborn babies of pregnant women and infections during pregnancy that can result in birth defects, including microcephaly, I won’t get pregnant,” she said.
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“I don’t want to have a baby that has microcephaly,” she said. “I will wait six months as the health and sports ministry has suggested. Six months is not that long.”
But Nang Pu, director of Myanmar’s Htoi Gender and Development Foundation, said the government should do more to educate women about Zika and its possible effects on their unborn children.
“The government should have contingency plans to fight against the Zika virus, she told RFA. “It should have a budget for this kind of catastrophe or disaster as well. We don’t have these kinds of plans in our country.”
“As far as [telling] couples that they should not conceive within the next six months, the government should educate women, especially those between 18 and 35 years of age, about Zika and provide free condoms for birth control,” she said.
Earlier this year, health authorities in several countries in East and Southeast Asia issued public warnings about the Zika virus and urged people to take measures to reduce the chances of infection, as they prepare for the possible spread of the virus from other countries.
After two cases of Zika-related microcephaly in newborns was confirmed in Thailand in late September—the first linked to the virus in Southeast Asia, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)—the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that pregnant women not travel to Myanmar and 10 other Southeast Asian countries, and advised expecting women who live in the region to avoid mosquito bites.
The WHO also recommended that Myanmar and other Southeast Asian nations implement stronger measures against the virus, especially by controlling mosquitoes that thrive in the region’s tropical monsoon climate.
During the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Inter-Parliamentary Assembly in Naypyidaw on Sept. 30-Oct. 3, all 10 member states submitted a resolution to take preventative measures against Zika, said Dr. San Shwe Win, chairman of the lower house of parliament’s Health and Sports Committee.
“The methods of fighting Zika will all be the same,” he said, citing the monitoring of people entering the country at airports and land border crossings and educating people about what they can do to avoid getting the virus.
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As of mid-October, Thailand and Singapore had each confirmed more than 400 cases of locally transmitted Zika infections, including dozens of pregnant women who had contracted the virus.
The day after Myanmar had announced that a foreign woman had been diagnosed with Zika, Thet Khine Win, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Health and Sports, held a news conference in the capital Naypyidaw to dampen growing concerns about contracting Zika.
“I would like to request that people not worry too much,” he said. “The health and sports ministry is working to fight against the Zika virus, and we would like to appeal the public to cooperate with us. The ministry will release information regarding Zika virus in a timely manner with full transparency.” (BBG)
The world of martial arts has been dominated by the Far Eastern nations, and words like kung fu and karate, immediately create a mental image of Asian men with long hair, white robes, and flexible bodies flying through the air. These arts, although completely assimilated by the Asian cultures, originated in India. Like Buddhism, which is the foundational religion that the principles of martial arts are derived from, the actual art form itself made its way from South India, where it was practiced for many years.
Kerala is known predominantly for coconuts, toddy, boats, and communism. It is also the house of Ayurveda, and Kalaripayattu. Kalaripayattu has become a dance form that is performed at festivals and in cultural programmes, but it began as a medieval fighting technique that was kept a secret among the warrior caste of Kerala, the Nairs.
Kalaripayattu trainees must learn to jump through fire hoops without getting burned. Image source: wikimedia commons
Kalaripayattu deals with bodily, mental, and emotional strength. Before the fighting begins, the warriors are required to practice meditation. They must learn to harness strength from the mind, in order to move in a way that acts as self-defence against the enemy, and serves as healing from temptation and waywardness. According to scholars, this art form is considered the most lethal, as the same hand can deliver a life-taking blow, and restore mobility in a single move.
The word kalarippayattu is an amalgam that means "training ground combat". It teaches the use of psychology in discipling the body and the mind. It was developed nearly six thousand years ago, and is deeply rooted in religion. Its five inter-related parts are fighting, Ayurveda (healing), spiritual practice, astrology, and yoga. Kalaripayattu warriors are taught to harness self-control, and develop their human spirit before they learn to fight. It is an art form that does not involve motive to kill, only to defend. The technique of imitating animal postures originated in Kalaripayattu, the eight animals being the lion, boar, cobra, rooster, buffalo, elephant, tiger and horse.
Young trainees learning to combat with fire Image source: wikimedia commons
In the 6th century, a monk from China came to India and learned the art. His name was Bodhidharma, and he is responsible for propagating martial arts across Asia. China and Japan developed kung fu and karate from the original kalarippayattu. Today, kalarippayattu is regarded more of a dance than a martial art, and it still is a very indigenous craft that has not been shared with the western world.
Keywords: Kalaripayattu, Bodhidharma, kung fu, karate, martial arts
Illustration of Christian protestants being burned at the stake Image source: wikimedia commons
Three blind mice. Three blind mice.
See how they run. See how they run.
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
As three blind mice (Modern version of the rhyme, Wikipedia)
Keywords: Three Blind Mice, Nursery Rhymes, Reformation, Persecution, England, Queen Mary
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