People have been urged to refrain from drinking alcohol and pay greater attention to a healthy lifestyle during the three-month Buddhist Lent, or Buddhist Rains Retreat.
The Buddhist Lent in 2012 will begin on 3 August, which is Buddhist Lent Day, and will continue until 30 October.
The Cabinet has designated Buddhist Lent Day each year “No Alcohol Day.” Refraining from drinking alcohol is considered a worthy act, not only for keeping people in good health, but also in compliance with Buddhist principles, which include a call for abstaining from intoxicating drinks.
The Ministry of Public Health is joining hands with other organizations, such as the StopDrink Network and the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, in the anti-alcohol campaign during the Buddhist Lent. The campaign is also meant to join the celebrations for the 2,600th anniversary of the enlightenment of the Buddha, or Buddhajayanti, in 2012.
According to the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, about 15 million Thais drink alcohol and spending on alcohol consumption amounts to 125 billion baht a year. Alcohol consumption may lead to social problems, such as domestic violence, and indirect economic loss. It may also lead to more than 60 health problems and diseases, such as liver cancer, diabetes, and alcoholism. Today about 50 percent of road accidents in Thailand are caused by drunk driving, which kills more than 13,000 people and injured over one million people each year.
Another campaign launched by the Ministry of Public Health is obesity reduction among the Thai people. Officials, led by Deputy Public Health Minister Surawit Khonsomboon, met Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Cabinet members on July 24 at Government House to encourage them to join the campaign, scheduled for 3 August-30 October 2012.
The weight reduction campaign has been cited as a way to make merit during the Buddhist Lent. The Ministry of Public Health has set a target to reduce at least 10,000 tons in body weight during the three-month period. It is expected that 10 million people will join the campaign. Each participant who is considered overweight should reduce weight by not over four kilograms a month during the period.
The campaign, carried out at all hospitals and health centers under the Ministry of Public Health, seeks to introduce a healthy lifestyle through nutritious food and proper exercise. The healthy lifestyle will reduce obesity and help prevent various diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, arthritis, and heart disease.
According to the Ministry of Public Health, the Government spends about 100 billion baht a year on the treatment of these diseases.