Brunei Darussalam to further strengthen health cooperation

James Kon

Brunei Darussalam is looking to further strengthen its collaboration with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Western Pacific Regional Office, in areas such as the implementation of regional and global action plans and the continuing work in combatting COVID-19 and responding to public health emergencies.

This was said by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar at the 71st session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, which ran virtually from October 6-9.

The Brunei Darussalam delegation at the meeting comprised the minister, Deputy Permanent Secretary (Professional) at the Ministry of Health (MoH) Dr Haji Zulaidi bin Haji Abdul Latif and other senior officials at the MoH.

Health ministers from 37 countries in the Western Pacific region convene annually to discuss priorities and actions that will bring better health to the population. This year’s event was the first virtual one held, under the leadership of its Regional Director Dr Takeshi Kasai.

Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham presided over the opening ceremony on behalf of outgoing chairman and Republic of Korea’s Minister of Health and Welfare Park Neunghoo.

The meeting’s main focus was to discuss and report updates on the COVID-19 situation in the region, during which Brunei Darussalam noted the extensive work done by the WHO in Western Pacific through guiding and providing technical support and assistance to member states.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar with Deputy Permanent Secretary (Professional) at the Ministry of Health (MoH) Dr Haji Zulaidi bin Haji Abdul Latif and other senior officials at the MoH. PHOTO: MOH

The meeting also saw the discussion on matters relating to vaccine-preventable diseases and immunisation.

Brunei Darussalam said it has achieved over 95 per cent vaccination coverage for 12 vaccine-preventable diseases in the National Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), which is provided free to all children, as well as adolescents and adults.

The promotion of universal access to safe and affordable surgery was also one of the agendas at the meeting, to which Brunei Darussalam shared that as part of its drive to improve quality and safety of patient care, the country has adapted internationally-recognised standards relating to patient safety goals, which includes the WHO Surgical Checklist.

“In order to minimise the risk of COVID-19, patients must undergo stringent screening, including RT-PCR COVID-19 test before getting admitted and undergoing surgery,” said the ministry in a statement. “Additionally, surgeries for cancer cases are not interrupted so as to reduce the risk of cancer progression.”

Healthy ageing was one of the topics in focus, which was of relevance to Brunei Darussalam as the country is experiencing changing demographics.

In meeting the healthcare needs of the elderly population, the ministry said a whole-of-government approach has been adopted to promote healthy ageing through various action plans, programmes and services.

The session also adopted resolutions on vaccines-preventable diseases and immunisations, safe and affordable surgery, and ageing and health.

Meanwhile, Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham had a bilateral meeting with Singaporean Minister of Health Gan Kim Yong, during which the ministers shared their experiences in addressing and managing the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine issues.