MoH rolls out first large-scale national health screening programme

|     Azlan Othman     |

THE Ministry of Health (MoH) rolled out its first comprehensive National Health Screening Programme for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol yesterday.

The goal of the programme is to bring about better control of the diseases and to detect them in their early stages so that treatment can be carried out more effectively.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar said previous surveys showed that there is a high rate of obesity, diabetes, cancer as well as cardiovascular and stroke diseases among Bruneians.

A STEPS Non-communicable Disease Risk Factor Survey – part of the STEPwise Approach to Surveillance Population Survey (STEPS) Adult Risk Factor Surveillance project by the World Health Organization (WHO) – conducted in Brunei in 2015/2016 notably found that among Bruneians, the obesity rate stood at 28.2 per cent, overweight condition was 62.8 per cent, high blood pressure was 28 per cent, high cholesterol was 51.3 per cent and high blood sugar level was 9.7 per cent.

“Organ failure can be prevented if such diseases are detected earlier,” he said at the press briefing for the programme launch at the Berakas Health Centre yesterday.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar in a group photo. – AZLAN OTHMAN

“Health screenings are a very effective and cost-effective method of dealing with NCDs. NCDs and the negative impacts that arise from them place heavy burdens on individuals, families, society and the country. Cancer, heart, diabetic, cardiovascular and stroke diseases are the major causes of death in Brunei Darussalam.”

Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said the findings by the MoH showed that there is an increase in the diseases year to year, with the number of people dying from chronic illnesses and NCDs also increasing.

The main objectives of the National Health Screening Programme are to prevent and detect NCDs early, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, as well as to detect complications that may occur as a result of NCDs early and prevent them.

This is crucial before damage occurs to major organs such as the heart, kidneys, brain (causing stroke) and eyes (causing blindness), the minister said.

Other objectives of the programme include making the monitoring of diseases more systematic, and reducing the premature mortality rate for non-infectious diseases among people between the ages of 30 and 70.

Deputy Permanent Secretary (Professional) at the MoH Dr Haji Zulaidi bin Haji Abdul Latif meanwhile noted that health checks are an early detection method for people who have not yet shown signs of illness.

“(When we detect diseases early), it is easier to treat and control them, and prevent or reduce disease complications before they become harmful. Previous health screenings (were carried out on a small-scale basis) involving government servants,” he said.

The MoH said the programme is open to citizens and permanent residents of Brunei Darussalam aged 40 and above, and those who do not have follow-up appointments at the centre/clinic or specialist clinics in hospitals for problems related to NCDs, including conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

The screening programme will be implemented at all health centres in the country and administered by well-trained nurses. For the Temburong District, the health screenings will be carried out at Pengiran Isteri Hajjah Mariam Hospital in Pekan Bangar.

Members of the public interested in the programme and qualified for it can register via three ways. They can fill out the entry form at the reception counter of any health centre in the country. Completed forms must then be returned to the MoH customer box at the counter.

The form can also be downloaded from www.ppkk.gov.bn, with completed forms to be sent via email to [email protected]

Registration can also be done online via www.ppkk.gov.bn using an e-Darussalam account (if available).