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    Brunei set to boost medical tourism through liver, heart transplants

    |     James Kon     |

    BRUNEI Darussalam is expected to carry out its very first liver transplant in April this year, said Minister of Health Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar.

    The minister was responding to a question from Legislative Council (LegCo) member Yang Berhormat Haji Umarali bin Esung, on medical tourism and the number of foreign patients seeking treatment in Brunei Darussalam.

    Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said, “The Ministry of Health is adopting a Whole of Nation approach in cooperation with Jerudong Park Medical Centre, the Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre and the Gleneagles Jerudong Park Medical Centre, to attract medical tourism to Brunei Darussalam.”

    In the past decade, he said, “We did not really develop medical tourism, because the range of medical services was hardly sufficient for the local populace. Occasionally, there would be limited beds for patients.

    “However, under the wise leadership 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 and the relevant ministries, the Gleneagles Jerudong Park Medical Centre was established, along with the Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre that comprises The Brunei Cancer Centre and the Brunei Neuroscience, Stroke and Rehabilitation Centre.

    “These places have around 300 beds for patients. With the in-crease of beds and health experts, we can afford to better care for the health of the local populace. If we only had the capacity, then we can aggressively start to promote medical tourism.”

    In the recent years, he added, “The government, through the Jerudong Park Medical Centre, the Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre and the Gleneagles Jerudong Park Medical Centre, has participated in overseas expositions, to highlight the centre of excellence in Brunei Darussalam especially for cardiac and stroke care, as well as for rehabilitation and cancer treatment.

    “Currently, there are foreign patients seeking treatment for heart problems in Brunei Darussalam, with the majority from the neighbouring countries in Borneo. The number is around 10 or more patients, annually.”

    The minister however, conce-ded, “We are a latecomer to medical tourism within the region, while our neighbours are far ahead of us in promoting their medical tourism.”

    Despite this, he said, “We will continue our efforts to highlight our centre of excellence; and Insya Allah, in the near future, Brunei Darussalam will start doing liver transplants. We must find the niche that not many are doing, one of which is performing heart transplants. The Jerudong Park Medical Centre is in partnership with one overseas medical centre, to bring in foreign patients for heart transplants in Brunei Darussalam.

    “If everything goes well, we should be performing the first liver transplant in April this year.”

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