MoH budget focusses on safety, controlling infection

James Kon

The Ministry of Health (MoH) has proposed a BND375,998,890 budget for the financial year 2021-2022. The development expenditure totals BND11,212,227 bringing the overall allocation to BND387,211,117 for the financial year 2021-2022.

Details of the MoH’s proposed budget, themed ‘Strengthening Safety and Controlling Infection’ were revealed by Minister of Health Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar during his budget deliberation on the 10th day of the Legislative Council (LegCo) session yesterday.

“The theme, which is in line with the country’s current needs, is necessary to prioritise economic recovery strategies following the COVID-19 pandemic. It is in line with the national budget theme ‘Towards a resilient socio-economic development’ which is to achieve Brunei Vision 2035,” the minister said.

The ministry’s budget focusses on prioritising the prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases, improving the maintenance of medical equipment and health facilities, increasing infectious disease control at clinical sites and medical equipment used while raising awareness on the importance of optimal hygiene; ensure a continuous supply of medicine and medical consumables that are safe and of quality.

The minister said, “Strengthening safety and infection control from various aspects including providing safe and quality infrastructure and organisational governance, manpower and services, can increase the value of national resilience towards stability and prosperity as well as high quality of life that can achieved by the people and residents.

“Patient safety is one of the main initiatives to achieve one of the strategies of the MoH which is excellence in medical healthcare services. Focus on the strategy for quality is three to five years including strengthening of healthy quality services by ensuring the availability of specific structures, functions, strategies and resources for quality and patient safety based on accreditation standards such as the International Patient Safety Goals (IPSG) and instilling a safety culture that not only focusses on patients but also the public and the ministry staff.

“The development initiative for patient safety is significant. Among the initiatives being implemented are the setting up of the event reporting system nationwide on trial in Tutong District and Belait District. It has now been expanded nationwide. It is hoped that the event reporting system will help the MoH identify risks and proactively plan systematic mitigation and improvement plans.

Minister of Health Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar. PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR

“The Pengkalan Batu Health Centre once again received the Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation recognition for the second time on December 10, 2020 with the Gold Seal of Approval Award for the standard of basic healthcare which shows that the country’s basic health services are among the best in the world.

“The MoH also received ISO accreditation for the National Clinical Chemistry Reference Laboratory from 2011 and the scientific services laboratory from 2016. This best practices will be extended to other hospitals and healthcare centres.

“The establishment of International Health Regulations (IHR) comprising various relevant agencies has strengthened national unity in addressing public health emergencies through a concerted action from all agencies. The committee will ensure the country’s preparedness to curb large scale infectious diseases like COVID-19.

“Efforts to curbing the COVID-19 outbreak in the country is continuing. Controlling the spread of COVID-19 must be balanced with economic development, including the entry of foreign workers who support the country’s economic development which is still needed today. The country will continue to monitor the pandemic and continue to quarantine anyone coming from high-risk countries.

“In the 2021-2022 proposed budget, the plans within 2019-2022 strategic plans will continue while following plans implemented in financial year 2020-2021. As planned, the Strategic Plan of the MoH is also in line with the five- year fiscal plan led by the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) through the fiscal consolidation programme launched in 2018. The implementation of the strategic plan of the MoH continues to show progress with support from the MoFE under the FCP programme. So far, 17 of the 39 (43 per cent) initiatives planned in the strategic plan of the MoH has been successfully implemented within the targetted period of 2019-2020 and even includes projects that were initially targetted to be implemented in 2023.”

The minister pointed out the outsourcing project for the supply chain management of medicines and medical consumables implemented from October 1, 2020 and is expected to help the MoH overcome issues such as shortage of medicine stocks and delays in replenishing medicine stocks.

“The outsourcing of kidney dialysis services has also been implemented from March 2021. The outsourcing of dialysis services has reduced congestion at government facilities following the increasing number of renal patients yearly,” the minister said.

The minister also cited the home-based nursing transport service project that uses the services of Dart Logistics Sdn Bhd.

The project is aimed to further increase access to health services by all levels of the community through universal health coverage by providing logistic facilities to healthcare staff ensuring the safety of nurses who visit homes.

The minister said the projects implemented under the fiscal consolidation programme have directly brought encouraging benefits.

Among them are providing permanent or temporary employment and also part-time jobs. To date, 29 people have been employed on a permanent basis and 10 employees have been hired temporarily to carry out the outsourcing project for the supply of medicines. For Dart Logistic Service, at least 32 Dart drivers were involved either regularly or periodically. The majority are local women who bring nurses to their destinations, he said.

Speaking on infrastructure projects under the 11th National Development Plan, the minister said the Molecular Diagnostic Clinical Laboratory for Infectious Diseases (NMRL) in Bukit Bendera, Tutong District has been completed at a cost of BND8 million.

He said it will commence operations after auditing. “The Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3) laboratory is a milestone for Brunei’s health sector,” the minister added.

The health centre construction project in Kampong Pandan, Kuala Belait, is under study through public-private partnership which will highlight a new concept and innovation in providing health services by combining patient treatment with wellness programmes under one roof as well as providing business opportunities to small and medium entrepreneurs, the minister said.

The construction of an additional building for the Silver Jubilee Health Centre, Sengkurong has also been planned. With a project value of BND3.4 million, the tender will be called with the assistance of the Public Works Department (JKR), Ministry of Development (MoD), he said.

The construction of the Children Development Centre, the minister said, has also been completed and launched on March 13, 2021 which now provides key services under one roof and has facilities for children in need.

The construction of the emergency services building at Suri Seri Begawan Hospital, Kuala Belait will also begin soon at a cost of BND2.2 million.

He said the BruHealth app, launched on March 5, initially aimed at social distancing measures.

“However, the application is not only limited to the control of infectious diseases but also has beneficial features in healthcare as shared by the MoH to the public.”

The minister said one of the initiatives of the MoH is to further develop the principle of one patient one record.

The Mini Hospital Information System Platform was also introduced through the application. In addition to strengthening the one patient one record system, it also supports the initiative of the MoH in providing patient-centred care while maintaining safety and improving the quality of services provided to the public, he said.

“I urge more BruHealth users to carry out self-identification to enable to complete personal data collection. I also like to inform that the BruHealth app will play a very important role in the COVID-19 vaccination programme that will be launched soon,”’ the minister said.