Address from Yu Nandar Aung
This address was given at the launch of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre on 23 November 2012. Yu Nandar Aung is a postgraduate student from Myanmar studying a Master in HIV, STIs and Sexual Health.
Good morning Senator the Hon. Bob Carr, Dr Spence, ladies and gentlemen. It is my great pleasure to be here today. I’d like to thank the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre for inviting me and giving me the opportunity to speak at this remarkable event.
My name is Yu and I’m from Myanmar. I’m studying a Master in HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections & Sexual Health here at the University of Sydney on a scholarship from AusAID.
First of all, I must say that I have had a phenomenal experience with the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre. And I am excited to share this experience with you here today.
In September this year I was invited to make a presentation to a delegation that included Thura U Shwe, the speaker of the lower house of the parliament, and one of the most powerful people in Myanmar. I spoke about my study experience and my plans for when I return.
My presentation included some facts and figures on the situation of HIV in Myanmar, which drew a lot of attention from the delegation, especially the fact that hundreds and thousands of people are dying because of lack of access to HIV drugs.
After my presentation, the Speaker of the House asked me some questions and we had a brief discussion on this issue. He promised to present this information to the parliament and to try to find ways to make treatment more accessible for HIV patients.
Two weeks later, I was astonished to read that the Myanmar government had decided to allocate US$2.3 million to HIV drugs for this financial year. In a context where the overall health budget per capita is just USD$34 per day, this is highly significant.
This outstanding result wouldn’t have been possible without the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre because I would have never had the opportunity to speak directly to such important people.
The centre was established in July this year, and it has done an incredible job already. I can only imagine how fabulous it will be in the future.
As a student from Southeast Asia, I am really glad that such a centre represents Southeast Asia here at this prestigious university.
It will make it much easier for people like me to network within the University and to help build the University’s relationship with the region.
For me, as a citizen of a country is only now emerging from decades of isolation, I am excited to see how the University’s connections with Myanmar have deepened so quickly as a result of the center’s efforts.
Lastly, I’d like to thank Dr Ford for her visionary leadership and the center staff for their tremendous support. I sincerely wish the centre all the success in the world.
Thank you very much.