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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 226
Local primary health care by local religious center: A case study of a Mahayana Buddhist temple, Thailand

Department of Public Health Curriculum, Surin Rajabhat University, Surin, Thailand

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Web Publication21-Sep-2015

How to cite this article:
Kaewla W, Wiwanitkit V. Local primary health care by local religious center: A case study of a Mahayana Buddhist temple, Thailand. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2015;8:226

How to cite this URL:
Kaewla W, Wiwanitkit V. Local primary health care by local religious center: A case study of a Mahayana Buddhist temple, Thailand. Ann Trop Med Public Health [serial online] 2015 [cited 2021 Jan 24];8:226. Available from:
Dear Sir,

In the present day, the new paradigm of public health is the promotion of health care by each individual. The administration of primary care by one localite to another is a new useful concept. [1] In order to promote care by the localite, he/she has to have knowledge and the local wisdom has to be used and promoted. [2] The role of a religious center as a center for giving local health care to localites is accepted. [3],[4] Here, the authors present a case study of local primary health care by a local religious center in a Mahayana Buddhist temple in Chanthaburi, Thailand. In fact, Thailand is a Buddhist country with the Hinayana Buddhist sect. For a long time, Buddhist monks have served as community public health workers. [5] Hathirat said that "if Buddhist monks are able to expand their roles to health care and education, Buddhist temples will automatically become community health posts." [5] There are many Hinayana Buddhist local religious centers that provide care to localites but there are extremely rare cases of such centers in Mahayana Buddhist temples. The present case study is a rural Mahayana Buddhist temple, namely, the Klong Thap Cave (Magic Drum Cave) temple. The temple is located in the Chanthaburi province in the eastern region of Thailand (about 230 km from the capital, Bangkok). The past abbot of this temple had managed a local center for the purpose of healing the local people. From the qualitative historical interviewing of nuns and temple attendances who had acted as the care team with the previous abbot, it seems that the temple is a primary care center to support physical, mental, and spiritual illnesses. The main therapeutic actions include the following:

  1. Using a standard Chinese herb regimen for treatment,
  2. Meditation, and
  3. Eating vegetarian food. Focusing on the three identified actions, each can be confirmed to be useful.

The use of Chinese herbs in Mahayana Buddhist temples has been well-studied in Japan and it is accepted as the root of the modern Japanese health care system. [6] The usefulness of meditation has also been well-described. A recent report by Stewart et al. [7] confirmed that in Thailand, Buddhist religious practices, including meditation, are useful and can significantly promote a healthy lifestyle (such as normal blood pressure). Finally, regarding vegetarianism, Ji et al. reported that the practice of vegetarianism during temple stay can be useful and helps reduce oxidative stress, which is the basic problem in several health disorders. [8]

   References Top

Hendy J, Barlow J. The role of the organizational champion in achieving health system change. Soc Sci Med 2012;74:348-55.  Back to cited text no. 1
Demaio A. Local wisdom and health promotion: Barrier or catalyst? Asia Pac J Public Health 2011;23:127-32.  Back to cited text no. 2
Coruh B, Ayele H, Pugh M, Mulligan T. Does religious activity improve health outcomes? A critical review of the recent literature. Explore (NY) 2005;1:186-91.  Back to cited text no. 3
Sloan RP, Bagiella E. Claims about religious involvement and health outcomes. Ann Behav Med 2002;24:14-21.  Back to cited text no. 4
Hathirat S. Buddhist monks as community health workers in Thailand. Soc Sci Med 1983;17:1485-7.  Back to cited text no. 5
Omata W. The origin of mental hospital in Japan and its typological classification. Seishin Shinkeigaku Zasshi 2003;105:200-6.  Back to cited text no. 6
Stewart O, Yamarat K, Neeser KJ, Lertmaharit S, Holroyd E. Buddhist religious practices and blood pressure among elderly in rural Uttaradit Province, northern Thailand. Nurs Health Sci 2014;16:119-25.   Back to cited text no. 7
Ji K, Lim Kho Y, Park Y, Choi K. Influence of a five-day vegetarian diet on urinary levels of antibiotics and phthalate metabolites: A pilot study with "Temple Stay" participants. Environ Res 2010;110:375-82.  Back to cited text no. 8

Correspondence Address:
Wasana Kaewla
Department of Public Health Curriculum, Surin Rajabhat University, Surin
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1755-6783.159850

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