Govt to hire more nurses
By Lyna Mohamad & Azrol Azmi

The Government of Brunei Darussalam will add more than 400 nurses to the Ministry of Health's workforce in a phased manner over the next two years.

HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Deputy Sultan said in realising the importance of hospitals, health and treatment centres in the country to have sufficient trained staff, the government has recently approved an additional 187 posts for nurses for the financial year 2007/2008. Another 127 posts have also been allocated for 2008 and 96 more for 2009.

The Deputy Sultan made a sabda at the launching of the Integrated Health Screening and Health Promotion for Civil Servants Programmes, which HRH consented to officiate yesterday at the Rizqun International Hotel at The Mall, Gadong.

Highlighting the nation's vision to achieve and maintain a high level of health in nurturing the quality of life of the citizens and residents here, HRH quoted the titah of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam on the monarch's birthday last year.

His Majesty said, "The ups and downs of the nation is the responsibility of everyone. Because of this, the government takes into consideration the welfare and the economic situation. For example, even though medical facilities and education have been free for so long, the government still continues to provide both services despite realising the increase in cost."

The Crown Prince also highlighted the challenges posed by new diseases that are easily spread and are complex to handle and treat such as Avian Influenza and SARS. In tackling these challenges, the government has established a national committee to handle the pandemic influenza chaired at the ministerial level with the responsibility to prevent any possible occurrence of such diseases in the country.

Moreover, chronic diseases such as coronary heart problems, stroke, high blood pressure and cancer are not only the main cause of fatalities in Brunei but have also become a threat in most developed countries, said the Deputy Sultan.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that death caused by these diseases will increase from an overall 55 per cent in 1990 to 73 per cent in 2020.

In Brunei, HRH pointed out, the effect of the rapid socio-economic development has brought about changes in lifestyle and the nature of diseases. Aspects related to excessive food intake and low level of physical activities are the most significant causes of increase in chronic diseases.

The nation is therefore faced with the challenge to make changes to the high risk lifestyle of our people to prevent such diseases from occurring or at least be able to trace them at an early stage, said the Crown Prince and added that the government is determined to provide a comprehensive healthcare and medical service to the people, which needs not just a small allocation.

"It is also therefore appropriate for us to respond well to efforts made by the Health Ministry which has stressed on the aspect of prevention through health promotion and education through health screening, early detection and early treatment methods.

"Each ministry and government department must also take the initiative towards caring for the health and safety of their respective staff members and look for any symptoms of disease that could be caused by the unhygienic environment or polluted air in the workplace.

"There is also a need to establish a working environment that could encourage and promote awareness amongst officers and staff that health is an important responsibility for all, not only for an individual, but should be in the interests of all that must be collectively practised," said HRH.

Health is Allah the Almighty's valuable gift, as a healthy body provides the ability to carry out duties and responsibilities in life, added HRH.

HRH expressed hopes that the health screening will become a practice that can be carried out according to the capabilities of the Health Ministry. He also called on other ministries to provide facilities to encourage its staff to carry out physical activities and exercises.

The Deputy Sultan hoped that all ministries and departments would provide such environment and facilities along with appropriate policies to support the vision and objectives of the programme. - Borneo Bulletin (6th September 2007)