Healthcare with a Difference
By Apiradee Treerutkuarkul , Bangkok Post
28 November 2011
Chanae Hospital ensures religious beliefs are just as important as medical matters
From outside, Chanae Hospital may look like a typical state community hospital in a remote area. However, the two-storey building with 80 in-patient beds is a hospital with a difference.
Chanae Hospital PHOTOS: APIRADEE TREERUTKUARKUL
Its blend of religion and health service has made Chanae a model for other state hospitals to follow in the far South.
Patients here are welcomed by a big green sign proclaiming "May Peace Be with You" both in Arabic and Thai at the hospital entrance.
All signposts at the hospital are bilingual and Muslim midwifes and teachers work there.
The hospital also has a mosque open to both patients and staff, as almost all visitors are local Muslims.
The inclusion of the Muslim way of life into the hospital routine has made Chanae Hospital a model for Muslim-oriented health services for other community hospitals in the southernmost provinces. Its success comes from the cooperation between communities, religious groups and health volunteers and several community hospitals in the three southernmost provinces have followed its lead.
"Working at the hospital helps me share the religious knowledge that I have learned for the benefit of fellow Muslims," said Ma Aba, a religious teacher at the hospital.
Everyday, Mr Aba will walk around in- and out-patient wards to help them follow their religious rituals.
Some wait for him to lead salah, the practice of formal prayer, five times a day at their beds, while others who can walk will attend prayers at the hospital mosque.
Mr Aba studied in Bandung, Indonesia, for six years before returning to his birthplace, Narathiwat, where he has been working for the past three years.
The hospital teacher said his work benefitted people in need of religious guidance in time of sickness.
Patients are open-minded and listen to his religious teachings, which can help them psychologically in conjunction with their physical treatment administered by medical professionals, he said.
At the maternity ward, taped teachings from the Koran are played for mothers to listen to while they wait to give birth.
This helps prepare them mentally for the delivery. In addition, local Muslim midwifes are also available to help mothers give birth.
Mother and child mortality remains a problem in the southernmost provinces. Ongoing insurgent violence has blocked some mothers from being able to access a complete maternal care programme during pregnancy.
The rate of newborn deaths in Narathiwat was 14:1,000, almost double the national rate of 7.3:1,000.
Maternal death in Pattani province, for example, was as high as 48.9 per 100,000 population compared to the national rate of 11.3 per 100,000 population, according to the Public Health Ministry.
Niyoh Nilae, 29, said she chose to give birth to her youngest daughter at the hospital, unlike her first child who was born at home. She believed the hospital took care of her and her baby in accordance with professional health standards and religious beliefs.
"We're proud that we can adapt our studies to provide health services based on local people's needs and religious leanings," said Nuliring Suemae, a hospital nurse.
"This way, more patients came out to receive maternal care and health services at hospital instead of giving birth at home in a bid to reduce mother and child mortality. It also helps reduce the gap between locals and government authorities," she said.