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24 Aug, 2015

Thailand Leads World with Policy to Advance Good Health via Religious Practices

Bangkok 16 August 2015, (Public Relations Department) — The Ministry of Public Health is pushing for a national policy to promote a healthy lifestyle by encouraging people to focus on their religious practices, along with medical treatment, exercise, and healthy diet.

The national policy, to be implemented from 2016 to 2020, was raised for discussion at a seminar, organized by the Ministry of Public Health on 13 August 2015 in Bangkok. Participating in the seminar were 1,300 members of major faiths, namely Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, and Sikhism, as well as representatives from various organizations.

Minister of Public Health Professor Dr. Rajata Rajatanavin said that, apart from promoting health, the policy is also intended to prevent diseases and reduce illnesses among the people. All sectors of society will be urged to take part in drafting this policy, based on the Thai way of life.

Dr. Rajata pointed out that Thailand would be the first country that integrates religious practices with the health service system, which also includes modern medicine, traditional Thai medicine, alternative medicine, Thai wisdom, and the Thai way of life. In this national policy, the philosophy of “Sufficiency Economy” will be adopted, while the people will be encouraged to adjust their lifestyle to protect themselves from chronic diseases.

He said that about 10 million Thais are now suffering from chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. The number is likely to increase. The national policy on healthy lifestyles will be submitted to the Cabinet for approval. It will cover all areas in the country, starting from 1 October 2015 onwards.

According to the Deputy Permanent Secretary for Public Health Dr. Surachet Satitniramai, the objective of the policy is to promote good health among the people, based on self-reliance and religious principles, the philosophy of Sufficiency Economy, Thai culture, and public health. The policy will also enhance cooperation between all religions, reduce disparities, and promote unity and sustainable reconciliation.

He said that the application of religious practices to promote good health has been carried out on a trial basis since 2010 in five provinces, namely Kanchanaburi, Surat Thani, Nakhon Sawan, Ubon Ratchathani, and Loei.

The Ministry of Public Health has set a target to expand the project to 19 more provinces, such as Bangkok, Sing Buri, Ratchaburi, Chon Buri, Sukhothai, Lamphun, Khon Kaen, and Trang.

The religious practices include prayers, medication, and discussions on religious principles. Other appropriate ways involves exercise, diet, and emotional development. The healthy lifestyle policy also engages an alliance of agencies in charge of health promotion and disease prevention. It will reduce behavioral health risks and solve major health problems.