Minister raises concerns on lack of regional neurologists

National 2 minutes, 39 seconds


CONCERNS over the regional shortage of professionals dealing with disorders that involve the human nervous system have been raised by the health minister.

Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Adanan Begawan Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Seri Setia Hj Mohd Yusof said nervous system diseases, scientifically known as neurological disorders, are common and represent a major public health problem.

Speaking at the 10th Biennial Convention of the ASEAN Neurological Association (ASNA) at The Rizqun International Hotel yesterday, the minister emphasised the need to strive harder and place focus on neurological care to address the lack of neurological professionals.

He said practitioners dealing with disorders affecting the human nervous system need to be strengthened in Southeast Asia.

“In capitalising new discoveries and innovation in neurology, and in applying it in a clinical setting, there is a need to understand and give due attention to various issues such as barriers, relative benefits, goals and challenges.”

The health minister explained that such understanding is required to ensure effective implementation of related service in today’s changing landscape as both technical and financial resources should be “optimally allocated and utilised”.

“Services need to be properly planned and aligned carefully, with appropriately identified targets to ensure patients achieve the desired health outcome, ” said YB Pehin Dato Hj Adanan.

He mentioned the significance of training healthcare personnel, along with the sharing of best practices and expertise in the region, citing a 2007 published paper in Neurology Asia titled ‘Resource and Organisation of Neurology Care in Southeast Asia’ by Nipon Pooungvarin, which stated that the region has a low number of neurologists in comparison to the world.

The paper found that 1,871 neurologists are serving a population of 540 million in the region.

This was in comparison to Europe which has a ratio of 1 to 10 neurologists per 100,000 people.

“The strengthening of neurological care within the existing health system is also imperative in reducing the burden of these (neurological) disorders.

“Healthcare professionals must continue to play an active role not only in treating disorders but also in contributing towards developing effective policies and key strategies for implementation that encompass promotion, prevention and rehabilitation extending even to the community level.”

He added the objective of doing so is to cater to those with neurological disorders, reduce mortality, morbidity and disability, thus improving the quality of life of both patients and their families.

YB Pehin Dato Hj Adanan reminded attendees to be vigilant of two key active transitions within the region, which includes an ageing population and the epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

“Both of these transitions contribute significantly to the burden of neurological disorders, and hence further emphasising the importance and relevance of strengthening neurology care. The challenge before us however, is how to best leverage on neurology with the high profile given to NCDs and synergise actions in building up our regional neurological capability and capacity.”

Over 300 participants are joining the three-day ASNA convention that aims to provide an avenue for neurologists to work together and organise medical meetings within the region, while communicating with one another to share best practices, solve common problems and develop the regional field of neurology further.

The Brunei Times