Brunei to set up nat’l rehab centre

National 3 minutes, 16 seconds


BRUNEI Darussalam will be setting up a national centre to rehabilitate patients with disabilities, including those with amputations, brain, spinal-cord and nerve injuries and even back pain.

The state-of-the-art facility, which will be located at the new National Cancer Centre at the Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC) upon building completion, will entail using rehabilitation medicine to get people with disabilities back to their lifestyles.

A national rehabilitation programme, which will be needed to help discharge patients from hospitals earlier, will need the collaboration between the Ministry of Health, Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD), the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital , the JPMC and other hospitals and centres in the community.

The introduction of rehabilitation medicine comes following a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which was recently inked between the University of Michigan, United States of America and the JPMC.

Professor Andrew J Haig at the University of Michigan Health System told local media yesterday that although they will be bringing in experts to work with local medical professionals and rehabilitation medicine, this will be a Bruneian-driven project.

"Rehabilitation medicine is a specialty that works with teams of physiotherapists, occupational, nursing and speech therapists. Brunei does not have that right now, so a lot of people with (disabilities) that have a lot to offer the community are stored in a room upstairs, rather than becoming businessmen and women," he said.

Professor Haig, who is also a specialist in the medical and rehabilitation field, said that within the next few months, they are going to be looking into programmes for patients with back pain and cancer survivors.

"As we build a bigger cadre of expert therapists here, and as the American doctors start working with the Bruneian doctors, we can start working and collaborating with colleagues at RIPAS and in the community to build programmes that take care of acute trauma patients, people with disabilities and those who had endured major surgery," he said.

He noted that a few medical practitioners will be going to Michigan for training, and hoped they would become specialists.

"This will be a huge commitment entailing four years of training, most of which will happen in Brunei. We are very excited to have some people spend a few months in Michigan and work in Brunei. We will have exchanges back and forth in all kinds of different ways," Professor Haig said.

The JPMC's Head of Department of Rehabilitation Vivian Tie said: "I think it is wonderful to actually have something like this happen here in Brunei. It brings a lot of opportunities to all the therapists and doctors. The greatest positive thing is for the people of Brunei (who will benefit from the rehabilitation treatment)."

The department head said 17 per cent of the Bruneian population has one kind of disability or another.

"That is a lot and if we don't have a rehabilitation programme, these people are not getting enough care."

She noted the national programme and centre is of national interest as it will be providing treatment for the people.

Professor Haig also said the national rehabilitation centre will become an academic resource for the region, and anticipates that Brunei will become an academic powerhouse.

"With the leadership of the Ministry of Health and with the doctors and nurses I have seen, I think within the next four to five years, Brunei will become an academic powerhouse," he said.

He added the programme will succeed once they are able to send back a patient with spinal-cord injury from Kampong Ayer back home.

The specialist said this meant the person will be able to transport himself in and out of the water village, and carry on with his daily life, instead of just staying at home.

The University of Michigan has also signed an MoU with UBD in areas such as health, business and education.

The Brunei Times