Friday, 30 October 2009

Concern over monks' poor health

Tue, Oct 27, 2009The Nation/Asia News Network

Public Health Minister Witthaya Kaewparadai told a meeting yesterday of 100 officials from hospitals and health agencies about results from a random survey last year on the health of 80,945 monks in all regions (out of 300,000 Buddhist monks and novices around the country).While 44 per cent of the monks were healthy, some 56 per cent, or 45,333 monks were found to be unhealthy, he said.About 31 per cent of those deemed unhealthy, or 24,937 monks, were sick, mostly from high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and emphysema.Another 25 per cent, or 20,396 monks, were said to be at risk of falling ill, mostly from coronary heart disease and diabetes, he said.Witthaya affirmed that sick monks and novices could get medical treatment from state hospitals freeofcharge via the universal healthcare system.Bangkok also had the Priests Hospital, the world's only hospital specifically for monks and novices.He said the health of monks, and other groups, would be well taken care of, due to plans to have 9,000 tambonlevel hospitals promoting good health and the training of 970,000 officials and volunteers by the year 2012.Priests Hospital director Waraporn Phumsawat said 70 per cent of admissions last year were sick monks and novices from upcountry. Most suffered chronic diseases that needed constant medication, or their illness could cause them to die or become disabled.She said yesterday's meeting aimed to set up a system to safely transfer chronically ill monks between the Priests Hospital and hospitals in Bangkok and upcountry so they could get medication and rehabilitation near their temples.

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