Bangkok Post

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.

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