Brunei meeting SDG aspirations

Azlan Othman

Brunei Darussalam has managed to meet several targets of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (SDGs), such as a decline in the Maternal Mortality Ratio from the 1960s up to the present, along with a reduction in the Under-5 Mortality Rate.

The nation has also achieved immunisation coverage that exceeds the SDGs target, which is more than 95 per cent of children under the age of five being immunised annually. It was also declared malaria-free by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1987, polio-free in 2000, measles-free in 2015 and Rubella-free in November 2018.

These achievements were highlighted by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar yesterday, in his statement for World Health Day.

World Health Day is celebrated globally on April 7, to mark the establishment of the WHO in 1948.

This year, the WHO has chosen the theme ‘Building a Fairer, Healthier World’, which aims to bridge global health inequalities and unite to build a fairer and healthier world.

“The WHO is committed to ensuring that every individual, wherever they are, can create the rights to good health through the concept of universal health coverage; and further encourage and promote actions that can be taken by all parties around the world, to contribute towards realising the two concepts of Coverage Global Health globally,” said the minister in his statement.

“Universal health coverage means that all sections of society in need have equal access to quality health services anytime and anywhere, without being burdened with financial issues. Health is a fundamental right of every individual; and every individual has the right to receive the information and services they need to ensure their health and that of their family members is always maintained.

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

“According to the WHO, at least half of the world’s population do not receive the health services they need, and about 100 million people of the world live in poverty each year because they have to pay for their healthcare.

“In this regard, this year’s World Health Day celebrations are focussed on aspects related to equity and solidarity, while using a whole-of-government approach to address barriers in access to healthcare and services by increasing investment in basic healthcare.

“In short, in achieving universal health coverage, most of the health care – whether in terms of health promotion, disease prevention, treatment or rehabilitation – is provided to all levels of society to ensure that Health For All is implemented and to develop health resilience in the future.”

He added, “Alhamdulillah, in Brunei, we are so fortunate, since the citizens and residents of this country 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 through the Ministry of Health (MoH), with the provision of convenient health services that are accessible and obtained in all four districts, which includes the provision of 14 comprehensive health centres, four health clinics, two air medical services and three mobile clinics.

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

“In general, basic healthcare has a very important role in universal health coverage and also in holistic healthcare, because it covers the lifelong health needs of an individual – at pre-birth, childhood and adulthood, until the end of

his lifetime. Meanwhile, the commitment of the government of Brunei towards basic health care in the country and universal health coverage can be seen through the country’s achievements in the Millennium Development Goals 2015.

“A robust and organised Basic Healthcare has also proven to be cost-effective and equitable in delivering better and quality health services, and has assisted many countries in making progress towards universal health coverage. Therefore, a deep understanding of universal health coverage is also very important in making national policies to ensure that Brunei will be able to continue to move towards ensuring and maintaining universal health coverage.

“In achieving the aspiration of health for all as a reality, cooperation from all parties is very much needed. We need individuals and communities with access to services to be responsible in caring for their own health as well as that of their family members; health professionals and workers with the skills to provide quality services based on the specific needs of their respective communities or people-centred care; and policymakers to be astute and more committed in the investment of basic healthcare.”

The minister added, “I hope that this year’s World Health Day celebration will be a platform for all of us, as citizens and residents of Brunei, to value our health and avail ourselves of the facilities provided by His Majesty’s government.

“Health professionals and workers also play an important role in being equally prepared to educate patients on ways to maintain health, coordinate care and support the needs of their patients. Good professional relationships can be leveraged through the provision of continuous and consistent patient education.”

“Finally, in support of the theme of this year’s World Health Day celebration, Brunei is committed and will continue to work to further strengthen healthcare for all levels of the population in the country in realising universal health coverage.”