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Brunei
Monday, November 28, 2022
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Brunei
Monday, November 28, 2022
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    Minister shares pandemic lessons learnt

    James Kon

    “COVID-19 has brought everyone together. Like an alarm clock going off, we should not switch it off and go back to sleep. We have to think of what to do.”

    This was said by Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah during the fireside chat of the 2nd ASEAN Digital Public Health Conference yesterday.

    The minister said COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic and tackling it has cost the government a fortune. However, he added, Brunei has spent comparatively lesser than other countries.

    Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said the lessons learnt in the past few years can be used to prepare for the next pandemic.

    He believes preparations should not just involve the whole of Brunei government but also ASEAN. This is the purpose of the conference, he said, to come together to share ideas, experiences and find ways to collaborate to allow better preparation for the next pandemic.

    The meeting of minds will benefit the Sultanate and also fellow ASEAN member states, he added.

    The minister also said the COVID-19 pandemic allowed the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) to have a better understanding of Ministry of Health’s (MoH) spending.

    Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah during the fireside chat of the 2nd ASEAN Digital Public Health Conference. PHOTOS: JAMES KON
    Participants during the event

    He said MoFE has been supportive of MoH from the beginning of the pandemic and also in the economy to ensure businesses survive and the workforce keep their jobs.

    Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said the forum should come together to assess healthcare funding, assist affected businesses and protect jobs. The government has learnt many lessons during the pandemic and one of it is not to waste the investment made.

    The minister said the government has invested a lot on the BruHealth app, which was initially used for contact tracing and now has been further developed to serve other purposes too such as for medical records and making doctors’ appointments. Its artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities were also useful such as predicting diabetes trends to have an idea of healthcare personnel and facilities needed in the future as well as funding estimates.

    Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said with good healthcare, the human capital is protected. Brunei with a small population needs all the people it has to build the country.

    Therefore, with a better understanding of healthcare needs, the government can budget better. The minister said investment into technology to better manage healthcare will lead to less wastage.

    The minister said COVID-19 was a catalyst to the Sultanate’s digitalisation and it has helped overcome the disease as well as become part of everyday life.

    He said digitalisation did not start during the pandemic; Brunei hosted APEC in 2000 where it advocated that every individual should have access to the Internet and information.

    Digitalisation is also an important agenda of the Digital Transformation 2025 launched in 2020. When Brunei chaired ASEAN last year, the group endorsed the Bandar Seri Begawan Roadmap: (BSBR) An ASEAN Digital Transformation Agenda to Accelerate ASEAN’s Economic Recovery and Digital Economy Integration.

    The fireside chat was moderated by Professor Emeritus of Finance (Practice) and Senior Advisor at Business Families Institute, Singapore Management University Professor Annie Koh.

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