Brunei embarks on holistic approach for prevention, control of NCDs
James Kon

IN A bid to curb the worrying and raising trend of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country, Brunei Darussalam is embarking on a holistic and multi-sectoral approach action plan for Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases which is aimed at 18 percentage relative reduction in premature mortality from NCDs by 2018 (18 by 18).

The ambitious action plan entitled ‘Brunei Darussalam National Multi-Sectoral Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases’ or in short BruMAP-NCD 2013-2018 was officially launched by His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Malik at the opening ceremony of International Health Conference 2013 yesterday.

According to the statistics from the BruMAP-NCD 2013-2018, the top leading cause of death in the Sultanate from 2008 to 2012 is cancer where in 2012, a total of 294 individuals died of the disease. Behind cancer in the second spot is Diabetes Mellitus where it was recorded with a total of 123 deaths last year.

Ischaemic Heart Disease or Coronary Artery disease is the third top leading cause of death in the country recording a total of 113 fatalities. Other non-communicable diseases that are top killers in the country for 2012 include Cerebrovascular (70), Hypertensive Diseases (45), COPD (44), Pneumonia (41), Septicemia (27) and Perinatal Conditions (38).

In terms of tobacco smoking, it was revealed that in 1997, the overall smoking prevalence amongst Bruneians was 20 per cent. The same survey showed that 31.1 per cent of adult male were smokers. In 2011, the findings showed that overall smoking prevalence was reported at 17 per cent where male adult smokers had increased to 32.8 per cent.

With the Vision 2035 of Together towards a Healthy Nation, the BruMAP-NCD 2013-2018 has outlined its mission as prevention and control of NCDs through enabling healthy environments, reducing risk factors and better management.

Two strategic themes have been identified and under the themes and there are five objectives to be achieved.

Under improving health through enabling environ-ment and healthy choices, the objectives are to reduce Tobacco Use – a relative 30 per cent reduction in prevalence of current tobacco use in persons aged 15 and above and all public places to be smoke free by 2016.

Another objective is to promote a balanced and healthy diet and to increase physical activity – a 10 per cent relative reduction in the population intake of salt/sodium and prevalence of hypertension, reduce the rate of increase of obesity and diabetes to one per cent, 50 per cent reduction on regular consumption of sweetened drinks by children, all school canteen operators stop selling sugar sweetened beverages containing six grammes or more added sugar per 100mls, 50 per cent of all ministries having established healthy workplace programme to promote healthy lifestyle and a 10 per cent relative reduction in prevalence of insufficient physical activity.

While under the strategic theme of improving health through enhancing the continuum of care for NCDs, the objectives of identifying people at risk for NCDs and managing effectively as well as to improve the quality of care (50 per cent of eligible people receiving drug therapy and counseling to prevent heart attack and stroke) and the outcome of NCDs management (80 per cent availability of the affordable basic technologies and essential medicines include Generics required to treat major NCDs in public and private facilities, 10 per cent reduction in CVD mortality in hospitals) were outlined.

Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Hj Adanan bin Begawan Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Md Yusof, Minister of Health in his remarks during the opening ceremony lauded the primary healthcare in Brunei Darussalam for undergoing tremendous progress and constantly evolving to meet the rising demands of the population as well as achieving the international goals in health.

The Government of His Majesty through Ministry of Health, he said, is committed to improve the health and well-being of its people through high quality and comprehensive healthcare system that is effective, efficient, responsive, affordable, equitable and accessible to all within the country.

However, the minister also highlighted that new challenges are emerging and particularly significant in the prevalence of non-healthy lifestyles that have led to an epidemic of non-communicable diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases and their risk factors in our country.

To address the concerns, the Ministry of Health has developed a strategic framework and plan that aims to curb the fast growing burden of mortality and morbidity from non-communicable diseases in the country.

“Therefore, we are indeed honoured and grateful for His Royal Highness consent to launch the Brunei Darussalam National Multi-Sectoral Action Plan for the prevention and Control of Non Communicable Diseases 2013-2018,” he said. - Borneo Bulletin (22 September 2013)