Royal consent to draft healthcare master plan
Aziz Idris

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam has consented to appoint experts for the sole purpose of drafting a concrete master plan for Brunei's healthcare system.

This is in line with His Majesty's aspirations for Brunei to achieve Vision 2035 by continuously strengthening the planning, improving the quality and further enhancing the nation's healthcare system.

In delivering a titah at the launch of the annual Knowledge Convention at the Plenary Hall of the International Convention Centre yesterday, the monarch spelt out his desire to witness the continuous prosperity and peace of the nation, with all its citizens enjoying a fair provision of both quality and comprehensive healthcare.

But His Majesty was quick to point out that like other countries in the world, we are not immune to the challenges in facing diseases. "It not only endangers the community but can also affect the development of social economy of the country."

The monarch then zeroed in on the challenges faced by Bruneians, one of them being the increasing number of patients suffering from chronic non-communicable diseases.

This includes cancer, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, diseases that do not know the age or social status.

"These diseases as I understand are the main causes of death in this country."

His Majesty also touched on the ever increasing cost of treatment and healthcare each year. To overcome such obstacles, the monarch has suggested all relevant stakeholders, especially the Ministry of Health, to intensify their efforts in making a more holistic approach according to the best practice.

The monarch suggested that such obstacles can be resolved by applying cost-effective methods and abide by the old adage that prevention is better that cure.

"Another method of control and prevention is through the practise of a healthy lifestyle which comprises maintaining a clean and safe environment. Such practices are revered in Islam," added His Majesty.

Similarly, Islam demands that we do not exceed our food intake, pointed His Majesty.

"My government has given priority for its citizen to have an optimal health. But this is only likely to be achieved if every individual and the community adhere to the healthcare services and not simply blame the government," warned the ruler.

His Majesty further explained that Islam places health and welfare as top priorities after faith. The monarch cited a message from Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) narrated by Ibnu Majah: "Ask Allah for health, for no one is given anything better for certain than good health."

"Thus, the value of health is the basis for a perfect life. The luxury of one's health allows the person to gain knowledge or continue to be obedient and submissive to Allah the Almighty.

"Optimal health allows individuals to meet their (religious) obligation in life and the hereafter to perfection."

His Majesty then commended the aptness of this year's theme "Nikmat Kesihatan Asas Kesejahteraan Negara" or "The Luxury of Health is the Foundation of the Nation's Welfare".

"It reminds us of the great importance of health," said the monarch, "A healthy community will have a more active role, be more productive and effective for the nation."

Brunei is a nation that has a comprehensive and holistic healthcare service derived from the Universal Health Coverage, the monarch said.

"We have met the standards that are set by the World Health Organization (WHO), including the Millennium Development Goals which are related to health."

However, the monarch cautioned: "But we should not become complacent, particularly negligent and lack vigilance (on healthcare)." - Borneo Bulletin (12 September 2012)