MoH: Teach patients responsibility for own health

National 3 minutes, 9 seconds


HEALTH professionals have been urged to empower the public to be responsible for their own health and less dependent on the health services provided.

Minister of Health Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Suyoi Hj Osman said that the ministry is now seriously considering various strategies to highlight the importance of the role of individuals and communities in promoting their health and assisting them to determine what health means.

"As a public service organisation, we can no longer afford to just rely on our healthcare providers working independently to improve the health of the population," he said during the launch of the 2009 Health Promotion Seminar held yesterday at the Ministry of Finance.

"Your role as health professionals, is to empower our patients by teaching them the skills to use health information effectively so that they know that they have a choice and can exercise control over the options that are available," he said, adding that the role of a healthcare provider will therefore change from being an expert to a facilitator for transferring the responsibility for, and control over, health to patients.

Meanwhile the patients' role will be transformed from being just a passive recipient of such expertise to one playing an active role in deciding what they can do with their health, he added.

Pehin Dato Hj Suyoi said that most of the ministry's resources have been spent setting up a network of high-quality health services so that the Sultanate's population would have a more equitable access to healthcare services.

"However, the prevalence of chronic degenerative disorders here, such as diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, cerebrovascular diseases and cancer is still high," he said.

He cited data gathered from the Integrated Health Screening Programme for Civil Service Employees in Brunei which showed that nearly 30 per cent of those screened have either symptoms or risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases.

"Eight per cent are diabetic with 13 per cent of the subjects having a high blood glucose level," he said, adding that another 10 per cent has experienced cancer.

"In addition, 36.8 per cent of the subjects are overweight while 24.3 per cent are obese, as determined from their body mass index (BMI)," said the minister.

He told the participants that such diseases are not only expensive to manage but are incurable.

"These are termed lifestyle diseases, meaning that most of these diseases may be prevented or reduced by changes in personal behaviour or the social and physical environments in which people live," he said, before stating that such approaches would ensure a better health outcome in terms of reducing the mortality and morbidity rate compared to only concentrating on the treatment of such diseases and their consequences.

He applauded the efforts by the Department of Medical Services in changing the structure of their services to include health promotion as an integral part of the holistic services provided to clients.

He however added that, for this to succeed, dialogue between various healthcare professions is essential.

"A standard operating procedure protocol must be drawn for all the clinicians to adhere to so as to facilitate the integration of health promotion into their daily work when providing care for their patients," he said.

"Another important role is that of advocacy for health... we all need to play a more active role in educating and convincing prominent leaders and influential individuals in the community to help them make the appropriate decisions that would have a positive bearing on the health of the population," he said.

"It is imperative, therefore, that whenever possible, community involvement must be encouraged and integrated, collaborative approach to health promotion needs to be explored," added the minister.

The Brunei Times