Vision, planning needed for quality health service
By Za'im Zaini

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday underscored the importance of thorough planning for quality health service.

"It is important for us to aim for the best level of health and Brunei, with the blessings of Allah, can achieve that. What is left is the way we plan, think and implement our vision, which needs wisdom.

"Health infrastructure projects that are being implemented through the five-year National Development Plan will be challenging the wisdom of us all," said His Majesty in his titah at the launching of the 100th anniversary of health services and Health Expo at the ICC yesterday.

"The purpose of the project is to add amenities in RIPAS Hospital. However, once completed, there may be a lot of shortcomings if our planning is not organised or its vision is weak," said His Majesty.

On human resources, the monarch said, "Similarly, with our planning in obtaining adequate human resources in health, having a vision is not enough to only obtain numbers without including experts.

"We do not want people to say 'there is quantity but no quality'," His Majesty added.

"Similarly, let it not happen that a building of a hospital that stands beautifully has many inadequacies that need to be addressed, such as vital equipment and medicine. Do we have adequate equipment and medicine? All that needs careful and thorough planning," said His Majesty.

On medicine, His Majesty highlighted the need to plan, monitor and enforce regulations to ensure there are no flaws in the purchase, production and distribution (of medicine) to patients, while also ensuring that storage of medicine is managed by responsible workers.

The monarch also spoke on the challenges faced by health services. "Like other countries, health services in our country face challenges that are difficult to avoid - challenges such as rising health care costs caused by the surge in the price of medicine, latest medical equipment and modern treatment.

"In addition, challenges arise in the form of diseases such as SARS and bird flu or the re-emergence of infectious diseases such as TB, malaria, poliomyelitis and others that call for enhanced vigilance.

"We are not spared from the non-contagious chronic diseases such as cancer, kidney and coronary diseases, diabetes and others.

"Non-contagious chronic diseases are mostly determined by an imbalanced lifestyle, less exercise, rise in obesity, smoking and others.

"These make the responsibility of health services heavier. Besides providing appropriate services, the health sector should also guide and advise society to continuously maintain health by engaging in a healthy lifestyle, be it through diet or activity, and in generating a clean environment.

"These are easier said than being implemented, thus I call to raise to these issues," said the monarch.

"I welcome the Ministry of Health's efforts in stressing the aspects of prevention and health promotion.

A number of programmes are being organised like civil servants health promotion and a healthy mukim programme, which are implemented with the cooperation of other government agencies.

"I hope programmes such as these are expanded so that all levels of society can enjoy, especially students at schools.

"I am also pleased to note the cooperation between the Ministry of Health and the private sector in handling health problems. One of them is the construction of the Health Promotion Centre, which is fully funded by Shell international. Such cooperation is most welcome," said His Majesty.

"Health is a valuable gift from Allah. With a healthy body, we can have a life full of pleasures. Thus, it is fitting if this field receives special attention from all, especially from the government.

"The health service has gone through 100 years and is one of the oldest services in the country. It has gone through ups and downs and has felt the heat and pain of World War II, epidemics that have effected the world's population and has now achieved prosperity.

"However, prosperity is not complete without a quality health service. The people and residents need to have a guarantee of best health and will not be affected by various threats of diseases," said His Majesty.

"I am delighted with a number of achievements in our health service, for example, our success in eliminating malaria since August 1987 and poliomyelitis in October 2004 are records that we could be proud of.

"I am confident that this achievement is related to the progress and development outside health services such as development in housing, clean water supply, environmental control, improvement in the quality of basic amenities and more," said His Majesty. - Borneo Bulletin (16th Nov 2007)