| Aziz Idris |
MINISTER of Health Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar proposed a 12 per cent increase for his ministry’s Financial Year 2019/2020 budget totalling BND386,834,340 during his speech at the 15th Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting yesterday.
The provision for the next 12 months will focus on several strategies which among others include investment on local healthcare professional, healthcare infrastructure, utilising innovative healthcare system and continuous prevention of non-communicable disease while maintaining basic healthcare for the public.
The minister also noted that after 35 years of establishing the healthcare sector, Brunei Darussalam managed to reduce the child death rate (for under five years) from 16 in 1,000 to 11.5 in 1,000 while the life expectancy in the country increased to 77.3 years from 71.4 years.
The minister noted that the number of complex medical procedure conducted in the country has increased, thus the number of cases of cancer treatments abroad reduced from 229 cases in 2015 to only 131 cases last year.
He said the number of medical doctors has increased more than six times but retaining a workforce of 50 per cent locals, while nurses and midwives have increased by more than three times with a 92.8 per cent local workforce.
“A significant impact for the provisions 2019/2020 budget include 82 additional posts for doctors, 129 posts for nurses and 14 posts for Allied Health Professional and affiliates created through trade-off,” explained the minister, adding that 101 doctors were hired last year.
Local doctors with specialist qualifications has also increased to 113, more than 70 per cent of the total specialists and consultants under the Ministry of Health (MoH).
The minister said that an allocation of BND14,600,000 will be reserved for medical supplies and services, and BND10,825,000 for asset protection.
He also outlined several projects that will be implemented under the 11th National Development Plan with a provision of BND11,698,860 and a total planning cost of BND25,045,000.
Among the projects include the construction of a new health centre in Pandan, Kuala Belait; construction of a new block for the Jubli Perak Health Centre in Sengkurong; construction of an Emergency Services Building at the Suri Seri Begawan Hospital in Kuala Belait; construction of a Certified BSL3 Laboratory for an Accredited National TB Reference Laboratory (NTRL) and Virology Services; and system upgrade for Bru-HIMS.
A big lump of the budget will go to staff salaries, BND225,897,990 and recurring expenditure of BND160,936,350.
The minister said special attention is given to mental health issues and depression with the opening of the Talian Harapan 145 helpline in August last year and other grassroots initiatives. He revealed that 3,324 cases related to mental issues and depression were reported last year, an increase from 2,846 cases reported in 2017.
The minister urged to respect mental patients because “they also have dignity and need to be respected like others”.
The Bandarku Ceria event has been given the thumbs up by the ministry as the initiative has also proven to be an effective platform for the public to practise a healthy lifestyle, whereby 42 per cent recorded a more active lifestyle while achieving the 150-minute exercise benchmark per week.
The minister said, “In line with the MoH’s vision ‘Together Towards a Healthy Nation’ and to support this year’s budget theme ‘Investing in Our Future’, the ministry is looking forward to continued cooperation with all parties from government agencies, private sector, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and grassroots leaders to join forces in protecting the health and public safety for the well-being and prosperity of the country.”