In Brunei Darussalam, the year 1972 saw the opening of its first dedicated health centre in Belait District, Suri Seri Begawan (SSB) Hospital.
Since then, the hospital has continued to provide health services to the residents leading up to the hospital’s 50th anniversary.
In marking the milestone, I met with the hospital’s Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mohamad Alikhan bin Haji Mohd Yakop who reminisced how the hospital has grown and adapted to the changes and developments in medicine as part of its mission to provide top healthcare services to the public.
“In the beginning, the hospital was built with 185 beds. Since then, the hospital wards have continued to expand to encompass a variety of health services.”
These include anaesthesia, internal medicine, general surgery, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, emergency, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, otorhinolaryngology and medicine, dialysis, endoscopy, specialist clinics, dentistry, psychiatry, radiology, laboratory and pharmacy services. “Currently, the hospital has 13 wards which houses 222 hospital beds.”
In addition to marking 50 years, the hospital is also the longest-operating government hospital in the nation, predating the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital in the Brunei-Muara District, established in 1984.
Mohamad Alikhan explained how the workforce of professional and skilled doctors, medical officers, and nurses, which started with 100 people, has since grown to more than 600 medical officers as well as both clinical and non-clinical staff.
The hospital has also undergone major expansions to cater to the ongoing advancements in the field of medicine.
“Looking back, some of the milestones in terms of the hospital’s structure and facilities include the building of the Rehabilitation Building, Multi-Purpose Hall, as well as the expansion of the operating rooms, wards and clinic, in 1995.”
Other expansions over the year include the completion of the Dialysis Centre in April 2000 and the expansion of the centre in 2009, the construction of the Women and Children’s Block that expanded the number of hospital beds to 222 back in 2003, the renovation of the psychiatric ward in 2012, as well as the opening of the Learning and Development Centre back in 2013 aiming to help facilitate medical training programmes.
The Day Centre Building for the Psychiatric Services was also officially opened in 2020.
“In addition to the expansion of the hospital wards and facilities, Suri Seri Begawan Hospital has also implemented latest information technologies, such as the Brunei Health Information Management Systems of Bru-HIMS in 2013 that helps expedite the speedy transfer of crucial medical information for doctors to accurately treat their patients,” said Mohamad Alikhan.
The acting CEO said the hospital will continue to upgrade the wards and medical services.
“One of the plans is the construction of a new block for the Accident and Emergency Unit as part of the 11th National Development Plan (RKN).”
He said the new block will see the expansion of the Accident and Emergency Unit, not only in terms of the number of hospital beds but will also include three fully-equipped isolation rooms dedicated to treating patients with infectious diseases as well as decontaminating patients in HAZMAT incidents.
“This development for the hospital’s units can improve emergency services, as they can focus on providing utmost care, comfort, and privacy of patients, especially those in critical condition.”
In addition to the approved plans of the 11th RKN, the acting CEO also shared some future expansion plans still in the works by the hospital as part of the 12th RKN.
This includes the construction of the new Surgical Building, and Rehabilitation Centre for Adults and Children.
“Although Suri Seri Begawan Hospital is facing challenges such as an increase in hospital admissions and patients with non-communicable chronic diseases, the hospital will continue to strive to develop and improve the medical services.”
He added that this helps ensure the hospital can stay up to date with the latest developments in the medical field, and improve the efficiency of hospital services to achieve Brunei Vision 2035, which is to provide a high quality of life for the people.
“Moving forward, the hospital hopes that medical officers and staff members across all units and levels can continuously increase the effort and determination in improving the performance and quality of medical services provided.”