CONTINUOUS developments have been undertaken by different organisations in their quest to realise Brunei’s Vision 2035.
To name a few, Demerit Points System, Bru-HIMS, public transport with specific routes, revival of GEMS as well as others which further enhance our day-to-day needs.
Nonetheless, there is still room for improvement.
Let us look at the demographics in Brunei Darussalam. Based on statistics, our population as of July 2014 stands at 422,000 and 46.9 per cent are aged between 25-45. In terms of birth rate, for 1,000 people, we can expect 17 new borns per year. The death rate is at three persons for every 1,000 people. Therefore, if everything remains constant, we can expect the population of Brunei to grow at a steady rate of one to two per cent.
We can look at it from different angles but for now, we will look at it from the viewpoint of the health service.
There are currently 283 doctors (based on statistics from LegCo 2014), an increase of 46 per cent from 2008. The average time to become a GP (General Practitioner) is approximately eight years – if all goes well. (‘A’ level – two years, Bachelor’s degree – four years and Residency – two years.)
The current ratio for a doctor to patient is 1:671 (Source: local newspapers) in Brunei. For developed nations, the ratio would be 1: 170-300 (average 235).
Based from the information above, assuming everything else is constant ie the population growth rate of one to two per cent and a steady rate of seven-eight per cent increase of doctors in Brunei, by year 2035, our population would be 520,000 with the ratio for a doctor to patient at 1:365. Ideally, it would take approximately 27-28 years to achieve a developed country recommended ratio.
Now let us look at the reality – the crucial facts and dilemma surrounding doctors in Brunei especially General Practitioner (GPs).
Although the introduction of Bru-HIMS has somewhat improved the management of patients records, it has not improved on the attending time per patient. I remember seeing in one of the clinics that stated that the average time for a doctor to see a patient is two hours.
There are over 280 doctors who work in hospitals and clinics in Brunei but not all doctors are attending to patients. Currently, there are four hospitals and 16 clinics throughout our country.
From my observation, there are an average of two-four doctors for each hospital and clinic.
Therefore, there are altogether an estimated 80 doctors who are actually seeing patients on a daily basis.
On average, a doctor sees per session 20 patients. If my math is correct, a total of 3,200 patients need to be consulted by the doctors on a daily basis excluding any high peak days such as Mondays and Saturdays and excluding the number of patients at Flu Clinic. This would then mean, annually, the doctor to patient ratio would arrive at a staggering 1:9,360 (you can do the math).
The patient attending system varies throughout Brunei.
Some have a working system in place and some just don’t enforce it. For example, the appropriate authorities must arrive at a consensus on the time patients are allowed to register at the front counter and must be publicised in the media.
Indeed, taking care of the public is vital but taking care of the key stakeholders in the health sector is equally important.
I think I have said what is necessary for the respective parties to look into. To sum up, taking care of the welfare of the public is one of the visions of our country that is to realise a high quality of life for the population.
– Concerned Citizen