Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, and one of the richest people in the world praised Thailands “Condom King” on his personal blog. In the blog titled “All Hail the Condom King”, Bill Gates writes a touching article to Mechai Viravaidya who helped teach Thailand about safe sex. The sex activist and politician have helped Thailand remove the stigma of sex and educated the Thai people on the importance of condoms.
Mechai Viravaidya was born on January 17, 1941, in Bangkok, to a Scottish mother and a Thai father. Both of his parents were doctors but he had no desire to follow in his parent’s footsteps. Instead, he went on to study economics in Australia. However, when he went back to Thailand his focus immediately changed. He saw an impending crisis happening before his eyes. “Fifty years ago I realized that Thailand needed to reduce its population growth,” he said. “I introduced a community-based distribution of contraceptives to supply pills and condoms through their villages.”
Bill Gates writes, “At the time, the average Thai family had seven children and the annual population growth rate was over 3 percent. Most women didn’t have — or even know about — basic birth control.”
Viravaidya found the Population Community Development Association (PDA) in 1974 to help with his goals. The purpose of the organization was to promote family planning. Nevertheless, due to the lack of doctors in the country, Viravaidya had to think outside of the box if he was going to get his message out. So his organization started teaching nurses and midwives to educate the masses. Additionally, Viravaidya started to use humor to promote safe sex. He would hold contests to see who could blow the condom as big as possible to having vasectomy festivals where he would hand out hot dogs to its participants.
With these initiatives, Viravaidya was able to achieve a decline in population growth to 1 percent. By the time the 80s and 90s rolled around with the HIV scare, Viravaidya was more than ready. He ran Thailand’s national HIV program, which helped promote safe sex by making condoms available anywhere in Thailand. Through his work, Thailand was one of the first countries to see a decline in new HIV cases.
At 77 years old, Thailands “Condom King” still helps the PDA which is now the largest NGO in Thailand with over 600 workers and 12,000 employees. In 2007, his NGO won the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations Award and received $1,000,000.
Today, Mechai Viravaidya is called Thailands “Condom King” or “Mr. Condom”. In addition, and most importantly, condoms are nicknamed as “mechais” in Thailand.
Bill Gates has also posted an Instagram post praising Mechai Viravaidya.
View this post on Instagram
In a country where most people were uneasy discussing sex, Mechai Viravaidya pushed the conversation out into the open. He made contraceptives readily available throughout the country, and even launched a chain of restaurants named Condoms and Cabbages. Mechai has helped improve the lives of millions of people in Thailand. And the Thai people have thanked him with an honor that is perhaps the greatest measure of his impact. When people in Thailand want a condom, they don’t call it a condom. Instead, they refer to it by the name of the man who taught them the importance of using one – they ask for a “Mechai.”
Check out the video below.
And to read the entire blog post by Bill Gates check out Gatesnotes.com