Student Buddhist monks and Covid-19 community isolation center
Cover photo credit: https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/1905230/monks-in-masks-novices-study-with-social-distancing, Photo credit: Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University (MCU) Source: Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University (MCU) and National Health Commission Office (Thailand)
“It is our responsibility to help the Thai government with dealing with Covid-19 infection for the people”– an excerpt from the agreements created by international student Buddhist monks in Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University (MCU), Thailand about living together and taking care of COVID-19 through community isolation.
This agreement came from an online workshop on Promoting participation and building measures for coexistence among students in dormitories under the Covid-19 situation and having a Community Isolation Center, August 5, 2021 organized by the Student Affairs Division, Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University (MCU), National Health Commission Office Thailand (NHCO), and key partners. As Covid-19 surged in Thailand and MCU, the Buddhist monks’ university had a policy on establishing a Covid-19 community isolation center for Covid-19 patients in the university.
Assoc.Prof.Dr. Phrathepvethi, Vice rector for student affairs division, MCU said that Covid-19 is a global war between human and disease, and we need to stay with it for a long time. In response to this situation according to the roles of Buddhist monks, the MCU will set up a community isolation center for Covid-19 patients in MCU university branches throughout the country. Therefore, we need to make every person who lives in the MCU, especially student Buddhist monks, understand the situation, gain knowledge about Covid-19 prevention, how to live withthe community isolation center safely, and how to take care of Covid-19 patients. We called this agreement “On living together and taking care of Covid-19 community isolation.”
In addition, the student affairs division, MCU had done many activities which related to Covid-19, such as lectures on Covid-19 situation, prevention measures, and vaccines; producing fabric masks and gel-alcohol; and joining hands with Bangkok Metropolitan Administrative or BMA on interpreting for disease investigating especially for Myanmar workers in Thailand.
Dr. Preeda Taearak, Deputy Secretary General of National Health Commission, Thailand (NHCO, Thailand) mentioned the importance of synergy from all stakeholders in society to set up community isolation center. It is an important way to take care of the patients and manage the Covid-19 situation due to a shortage of hospital beds, hospital field beds, intensive Care Unit (ICU), health workforces, and medical equipment.
During the third wave of the outbreak, NHCO with health and non-health, media, religious, and community development organizations worked on a project focusing on a synergy of active citizens to help the country fight with Covid-19. The project is supporting a community to set up a waiting center, a quarantine center, a rehabilitation center, and community measures to control transmission cycles in their community. In addition, we also supported Buddhist monks in launching Buddhist Monks Health Charter to fight Covid-19 in many areas of Thailand. This charter directs the way Buddhist Monks cope with the Covid-19 situation.
Dr. Wirun Limsawart, Director of Society and Health Institute (SHI), Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) Thailand, said that the health system, mainly medical doctors, nurses and the health workforce, will fail sooner due to the Covid-19 surge in Thailand. We need the whole society’s collaboration in response to Covid-19 outbreaks, with initiatives such as setting up a community isolation center for Covid-19 patients to separate infected people from communities or families. Mild symptom patients will refer to community isolation with appropriate treatments. On the other hand, spiritual treatments such as Dharma practicing and building awareness and consciousness of Covid-19 problems are important roles for Buddhist monks because we should treat people both physically and mentally.