Ministers meet with eye on health development

MANILA (Borneo Bulletin/ANN) - Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad Isham bin Haji Jaafar highlighted that the success of legal frameworks that support sustainable health development goals depends upon its systematic and thorough implementation to ensure its goals are met.

Making the remark at the 69th Session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for the Western Pacific being held in Manila, Philippines, the minister shared Brunei Darussalam’s efforts to meet Sustainable Development Goal 3 - “to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages,’ noting that Brunei makes full use of legal frameworks to that effect. Over recent years, Brunei also introduced legislation such as the Tobacco Order 2005 and the Infectious Disease Act Cap 204.

He highlighted that when new legislation is developed from the outset, its implementation must be considered in parallel - such as responsibilities for coordination, monitoring and enforcement, clarity of offences and penalties for non-compliance, resource requirements and development of new skills; while stressing that legal mechanisms on their own will not automatically result in the change needed to support the health agenda.

“The success of a health-related legislation depends ultimately on the engagement of the public as the key stakeholder. This is why legal instruments that address health must go hand in hand with systematic efforts to improve health literacy and community outreach,” he added.

Health ministers and representatives from 37 countries and areas within the Western Pacific Region convene annually at the Regional Committee Meeting to discuss priorities and actions that will bring better health to the population of the region.

During the meeting, the Minister of Health also noted that the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) remain a national priority. Brunei Darussalam seeks to strengthen its existing collaboration with the Western Pacific Regional Office, in particular on the development of cancer and NCD registries that can yield high quality information for action.

He shared Brunei’s achievements in the field of tuberculosis (TB) control over the decades as an early achiever of the TB-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). He also noted, however, that recent years had seen stagnation in these achievements and that he sought innovative approaches to tackling this issue.

He also highlighted that successful collaboration is measured on how the action plans can be translated into real change to improve the health and wellbeing of the population.

The meeting also discussed matters related to neglected tropical diseases, rehabilitation, strengthening legal frameworks for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), harnessing e-health for improved service delivery, and improving hospital planning and management.

The meeting also discussed issues relating to public health emergencies. Brunei Darussalam reiterated its continuous support towards ensuring a resilient health system that is able to absorb the shock of a public health emergency, while at the same time continue to provide essential regular health care.

This means that core capacity strengthening for emergency preparedness cannot be conducted in silo, but must be integrated within the overall health system in line with best practices as mandated by the International Health Regulations (2005).

The meeting also nominated Dr Takashi Kasai from Japan as the new Regional Director for the Western Pacific for the term of five years.

This is the 69th year the Regional Committee has met, seeing the attendance of Director-General of the WHO Dr Tedros Adhanum Ghebreyesus and outgoing Regional Director of the Western Pacific Region Dr Shin Young-Soo, alongside 23 Health Ministers from the Western Pacific Region.

Also attending the meeting were Deputy Permanent Secretary (Professional) at the Ministry of Health Dr Haji Zulaidi bin Haji Abdul Latif and officials of the Ministry of Health.