HRH opens Nursing conference
By Azlan Othman

Her Royal Highness Princess Hjh Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah yesterday stressed that health care will always be given top priority in Brunei's national development goal, which is perhaps reflected in the infant mortality rate that is considered low, even by standards of a developed country.

HRH stressed this during the opening of the three-day 7th Biennial International Nursing Conference themed 'Innovation in Nursing and Midwifery: Practice, Education, Management and Research.'

In her 'sabda' while opening the event, HRH Princess Hjh Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah said, "From the perspective of the nursing and midwifery professions, we recognise the importance of encouraging our nurses and midwives to pursue an agenda of innovation through the continuous acquisition of academic expertise.

"In this regard, I have been made to understand that we are expanding the post registration programmes of the Nursing College to meet the demands for more specialist caregivers for chronically ill patients with cancer and renal diseases."

"We are also looking to the future strengthening of formal academic links with Universiti Brunei Darussalam. This conference and the expertise that it brings with it therefore come at an opportune moment for us to learn from the experience of the participants and speakers, who are all highly qualified professionals in their own fields."

On the subject of challenges, HRH said that nurses and midwives continue to face increasing challenges encompassing issues ranging from educating the public on adopting a healthier lifestyle to the global threat posed by infectious diseases such as bird flu and SARS.

"Patients too have come to expect more from their healthcare professionals. They are now better educated and more well-informed on the standards of care they should be receiving, especially in terms of getting quality service that commensurate with the cost of medical fees.

"It is therefore absolutely essential for the nursing profession to rise to the challenge of meeting these expectations and I believe that they have been able to do so admirably," HRH added.

HRH Princess Majeedah Nuurul Bulqiah was also present at the opening of the event.

Later, another speech was delivered by Nursing College Principal cum Chairman of the organising committee Hjh Thaibah bte PDPD DP Hj Abd Rahim.

In it she said that innovation in nursing and midwifery is a process of continuously responding to the changes driven by progress in technology, particularly information technology. This, she believes, will lead to improvement in our care for outpatients and clients.

"It must be driven by unrelenting efforts on the part of our professionals to address the changes that are necessary to preserve the values of our caring relationships with patients, while keeping pace with technological changes.

"Perhaps one of the main challenges in this is to make sure that in the nursing and midwifery practices, there is clarity on what is right or wrong," she said.

One of the highlights of the ceremony was the presentation of an Innovation Award for the 7th International Nursing Conference to Hjh Jainah bte Hj Musa, who received a crystal plaque and $1,000.

The conference this year coincides with the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the College of Nursing. In the last 20 years, there have been many innovative milestones recorded in its rapid development, which among them is realising this conference, which was initiated in 1994.

The speakers hail from Asean countries, China, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. (5th Dec 2006)