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Helen Craigie - Buddhist End-Of-Life Care in Modern Taiwan

Helen Craigie - Buddhist End-Of-Life Care in Modern Taiwan



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Published by: John C Plass on Jun 25, 2012
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Buddhist Influence on End-of-Life Care in Modern Taiwan
Helen Craigie
June, 2012
Buddhist End-of-Life Care in Modern Taiwan
In recent history, Taiwan has exhibited some fascinating social trends inthe development of both Buddhist outreach programs and socially fundedmedical care. Specifically, modern Taiwan presents an interesting case study forthe interaction between religious practice and modern medicine in that newly
socialized government health programs must meet the needs Taiwan’s
population which has a basic Chinese culture combined with a strong modern,secular culture influenced by both the west and Japan. Remarkably, governmenthealth agencies are given immense support in their mission to provideappropriate healthcare through the numerous health related service projectsorganized and developed by Buddhist organizations. For instance, outreachvolunteer services provide health services for individuals through free medicalcare from doctors and educational seminars lecturing on how to copepsychologically with life and death issues. Massive projects have been enactedsuch as the construction and staffing of large-scale hospitals in areas withoutconvenient access to health services, the funding of biomedical research studiesand the creation of medical universities to train future healthcare providers.End-of-life care for the elderly and terminally ill is provided through volunteeroutreach home care for elderly and sick individuals, and Buddhist chaplaincyprograms train monastics to provide spiritual care in religious and secular
Buddhist End-of-Life Care in Modern Taiwan
hospitals. Outreach services also provide end-of-life ritual chanting and funeralarrangement as well as grievance counseling for the remaining family members.As Taiwanese government health agencies and Buddhist outreachprograms become increasingly intertwined in providing care services for the sickand dying, it is important to consider how the two groups influence one anotherand the effects of their close relationship on the types of care that are provided.On one hand, the religious body has great potential for influence over publichealth policy and program decisions as they build large-scale medical hospitals,train medical staff and fund medical research. On the other hand, the field ofmodern medicine could affect the development of modern Buddhism astraditional practices and beliefs are incorporated into the clinical setting.Understanding how these two entities interact with one another to provide carefor the modern Taiwanese patient will reveal compelling information on howmodern liberal-minded social health programs interact with the thrivingreligious beliefs associated with Taiwanese Buddhism.

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