Universal health coverage is every individual’s right: Minister

|    Hakim Hayat   |

IN CONJUNCTION with World Health Day 2019 that is globally commemorated on April 7 since 1948, Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar delivered a message in which he highlighted this year’s theme of ‘Universal Health Coverage’, which he said aims to further promote actions that can be undertaken by everyone around the world, towards realising the concept of Global Health Coverage.

Universal health coverage means that all levels of society must have same access to quality health services anytime and anywhere, without being financially burdened.

“This is the right of all individuals, who are entitled to the essential information and services, in ensuring the protection of their own health and that of their family members,” he added.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), at least half of the world’s population do not receive the required health services, and about 100 million people live in poverty because of medical bills.

In this regard, the minister said that this year’s celebrations will focus on aspects related to equity and unity, in addition to addressing barriers for access to healthcare and services.

“In simple terms, in achieving universal health coverage, most of the healthcare – whether in the form of health promotion, disease prevention, treatment or rehabilitation – should be as near as possible to the patient’s place of residence.

“At the same time, basic healthcare serves as the first point for every individual, family and community’s relation with the country’s health system.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar. – MOH

Alhamdulillah, Brunei Darussalam is fortunate that all citizens and residents receive universal health coverage from the Government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, with the provision of health services that are easily accessible and available nationwide, including the provision of 14 comprehensive health centres, four health clinics, two air medical services and three mobile clinics.

“The health centres available at the community level are comprehensive and in line with the One-Stop Health Centre concept that provides basic healthcare services that are concentrated under one roof, with the aim of improving quality and efficiency by providing a more comfortable and conducive environment closer to the community.”

The minister then stressed that basic healthcare has a very important role in universal health coverage and also in holistic healthcare, as it covers the health needs of an individual for a lifetime.

He also stated that Brunei’s commitment to basic healthcare and universal health coverage is apparent through a number of achievements under the Millennium Development Goals 2015 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030, such as declining Maternal Mortality Ratio; achieving the target for the Under-5 Mortality Rate; achieving immunisation coverage above SDGs targets, which is more than 95 per cent of children under the age of five years being immunised every year; and the declaration of Brunei as a Malaria-free country by the WHO in 1987, Polio-free in 2000, Measles-free in 2015 and Rubella-free in November 2018.

“A steady and systematic basic healthcare has also proven to be cost-effective and justifiable in delivering better quality health services, and has helped many countries in achieving progress,” said the minister further, while stressing that a deep understanding of Universal Health Coverage is also very important in the formulation of national policies to ensure that Brunei Darussalam would be able to move forward in ensuring and maintaining this objective.

To achieve the goal towards health for all, the minister emphasised that cooperation from all parties is required, “We need individuals and communities who have access to services to be responsible for their health and that of their family members; professionals and health workers with the skills to provide quality services based on people-centred care; and policymakers who are more astute and committed in investing for basic health care provision.

“I hope that this year’s World Health Day celebrations will serve as a platform for all of us, as citizens and residents, in appreciating our own health and not to undermine the facilities provided by His Majesty’s government. Health professionals and workers also play an important role in being equally willing to educate patients on ways to care for health, coordinate care, and support the needs of their patients. Good professional relationships can be utilised through the provision of patient education continuously and consistently, with every patient.

“In supporting the theme of World Health Day this year, Brunei Darussalam is committed and will continue to strive towards the strengthening of basic healthcare, in accomplishing universal health coverage so that quality and comprehensive health services can be received by all levels of society easily and equally, as part of the country’s healthcare system, which is in line with the goals of Brunei Vision 2035 for an improved quality of life; and also in line with the Ministry of Health’s vision of a healthy populace,” the minister said