Call for healthcare insurance coverage or medicare scheme

National 2 minutes, 40 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

A NON-GOVERNMENTAL member of the State Legislative Council has expressed concerns on the rising costs of health services and other facilities, as this will continue to increase every year.

"Bruneians are lucky because the government has already provided a high level of subsidies and free medical treatments and services, and we are currently able to enjoy sufficient national income to pay for medical expenses," Dato Paduka Hj Idris Hj Abas said during the State Legislative Council meeting yesterday.

The owner of Arkitek Idris said that the Ministry of Health can introduce healthcare insurance coverage or a medicare scheme to deal with issues of providing sustainable health services.

The Minister of Health replied that introducing healthcare insurance has many implications, including the public's readiness to pay insurance and identifying the role of the Ministry of Health and other staff once the insurance is introduced.

"One option to reduce the Ministry of Health's expenses is to encourage the public to lead a healthier lifestyle, so that we do not rely on medicines and doctors," said Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Suyoi Hj Osman.

There are no concrete discussions on healthcare insurance to counter the rising costs of health services yet, but it is an option that may be considered, he added.

Dato Hj Idris also raised the issues of heavy traffic congestion and limited parking spaces at the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (Ripas) hospital.

He said that the Ministry of Health should allocate part of its budget to overcome these issues, as the surrounding area of Ripas Hospital is narrow and limited for further expansion.

"Based on research, one of the reasons for this traffic congestion is due to drivers going round and round to find parking space," he said during the State Legislative Council meeting yesterday.

He suggested the construction of a bridge to ease the traffic flow to and from the hospital's main road.

This bridge can be directly connected from the parking area to the highway, while another solution is to build an extra road lane, he said.

"The question is can the Ministry of Health allocate the budget to carry out this proposal?" he asked.

The minister admitted that the issue of limited parking space and traffic congestion at Ripas Hospital is causing problems.

He said that the National Development Plan 2007-2012 includes the budget to expand roads in the surrounding hospital area.

"Hopefully it will start this year, because the ministry will expand the hospital by adding a new Women and Children's Block," he said.

It is also hoped that renovations in the surrounding areas of the hospital would also help to overcome the problem of traffic congestion and limited parking space, he added.

"Nevertheless, renovations at Ripas Hospital will indeed happen, as more people visit the hospital every year," the minister said. He also lamented the habit of people parking near the hospital building.

"In fact, parking space is available near the jetty and behind the recreational area of Ripas Hospital, but visitors prefer to park near the hospital due to various reasons," he added.

The Brunei Times