Temple in Thailand That Provides HIV/AIDS Services Scheduled To Close
A temple in Thailand that provides medical care and shelter for HIV-positive people within three months is scheduled to close because of a lack of public resources, according to Chalermphol Pholmuk, secretary-general of the Dharmarak Foundation, the Bangkok Post reports. The Wat Phrabat Nampu temple in Thailand's Lop Buri province often is the last option for HIV-positive people who cannot access treatment at government hospitals and who have been shunned by their families, according to the Post. Chalermphol said some HIV-positive people who have money can seek treatment at private hospitals, while other HIV-positive people must go to government hospitals, where they often are rejected. In addition, some HIV-positive people are abandoned by their families, who leave them homeless until they are found and taken to the temple. Staff at the temple care for HIV-positive youth and adults, and the temple's expenses total about $1.6 million annually. According to Charlermphol, the number of visitors who come to donate money and supplies to the temple recently has decreased, while the number of HIV-positive people seeking care continues to increase. Some generic antiretroviral drugs provided by the government and other donors to the temple have extended the lives of HIV-positive people, but discrimination continues to alienate them, the Post reports. In addition, several nongovernmental organizations that care for HIV-positive people recently have been forced to close because of a lack of financial or moral support from the government, according to the Post. The temple's abbot, Luang Phor Udomprachathon, is responsible for seeking money, food, antiretrovirals and other provisions to care for HIV-positive people, but his health is deteriorating, Chalermphol said. Luang Phor continues to talk with people about HIV/AIDS, but "people are now facing rising expenses in an uncertain economic environment," Chalermphol said, adding, "Some want to help, but they have to think about their own survival first" (Hengkietisak, Bangkok Post, 8/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.