It was a challenge to teach about the health issues associated with mobile networks to over 80 members of the Yangon Regional Hluttaw (regional Parliament), including the Speaker and Deputy Speaker. I am not qualified in medicine, but I keep getting asked whether a new mobile BTS being erected in a neighborhood or a son’s or daughter’s “excessive” mobile use is likely to cause health problems. I realize the questioner, generally a member of the public who has made the effort to find my number and call me me cold, is highly worried and is also placing a great deal of trust in me. Therefore, I have made the effort to keep up with the research and respond based on the best possible evidence and with sensitivity to their fears.
The slides that I used in my talk are based primarily on the writings of the brilliant Siddhartha Mukherjee, supplemented by a recent Australian study.
My primary recommendation, given the presence of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, was that they should consider setting up a Hluttaw Research Service (HRS) to assist the MPs inform themselves about complex issues such as health effects of mobile telephony. As this hitherto isolated country experiences the rapid changes associated with being connected to the world, these types of issues are likely to come up over and over again. Having seen both the fog of ignorance that appears to envelop the Sri Lankan legislature and the considerable progress made in attacking the problem in India, I believe this is an urgent need for Myanmar. Perhaps we can pilot a HRS in Yangon and then scale up to the Union Legislature in Nay Pyi Taw?