Monks’ health at heart of new proposal
The public will be sounded out on the country’s first regulation designed to improve the health of monks after it is put to the Supreme Patriarch for consideration, according to the working group studying the draft.
The working group operates under the National Health Commission, which is sponsoring the proposed regulation. It said it will set guidelines to improve the dietary discipline of the nation’s 400,000 monks, many of whom suffer from ailments.
The bill, if passed, would also deter people from giving alms in excessive quantity to monks who are not in good health. Many people hold a false belief that the more alms they give, the more merit they will gain, said the chairman of the working group.
He said the draft regulation seeks to elevate the role of monks as promoters of public health in their communities.
Representatives of various agencies will meet the Supreme Patriarch and present him with the draft regulation for consideration.
After that, a public hearing will be organised to sound out the opinions of monks and the general public.
It will be the country’s first draft regulation to improve monks’ health, made possible through the cooperation between the National Office of Buddhism (NOB) and the Supreme Sangha Council.
The draft regulation contains seven sections including those intended to educate monks on how to take better care of their health and how people can contribute to the monks’ well being. A section is also dedicated to how the guidelines can be translated into practice.
Department of Health deputy chief Atthapol Kaewsamrit said many monks wind up hospitalised and suffer high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension or obesity. Issues for older monks include cataracts and ailments relating to the function of the joints.
He said people need to better educated on the importance of offering monks clean and nutritious food. The understanding should be forged in local communities, where only one-fifth of the more than 20,000 temples nationwide have joined a campaign promoting better health for monks.
Phra Khun Sangkakij, deputy abbot of Wat Chonprathan Rangsarit in Nonthaburi, said the draft regulation would be useful if it were implemented properly and taken to heart.
Monks must observe the ecclesiastical ground rule to not over-consume. Eating is seen a way to sustain themselves rather than an indulgence.
At Wat Chonprathan Rangsarit, monks are barred from consuming products which are potentially addictive or harmful to their health, including carbonated drinks and energy beverages.