Milestones in the fight against NCDs

National 3 minutes, 50 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE national campaign to raise public awareness on the prevention and control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) began on September 9 this year.

NCDs such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, cerebrovascular disease and high blood pressure have been the major causes of death for the last decade.

According to data from the Ministry of Health, of all the deaths caused by NCDs in the Sultanate, about 50 per cent of the victims were under the age of 70.

An analysis of data on NCD-related deaths from 2000-2012 indicated that the rate among males was higher than females, with the highest number of deaths due to cardiovascular disease and the overall trend constant.

The Ministry of Health’s figures for 2012 show that five NCDs contributed to 670 premature deaths or 55 per cent of the national total of 1,216.

After the launching ceremony of the campaign – which was graced by His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office – various activities ranging from talks and free health checks to healthy cooking demonstrations were also held. Under the theme “Our Health, Our Responsibility. Act Now!”, the campaign will be extended to other districts at the beginning of 2015.

The national drive to combat NCDs was held a year after the Brunei Darussalam National Multisectoral Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs, also known as BruMAP-NCD 2013-2018, was launched in September 2013.

The mission of BruMAP-NCD is to prevent and control NCDs by creating a healthier environment as well as reducing risk factors and better management. It has the goal of becoming fully aligned with the global target of a 25 per cent relative reduction in premature mortality from NCDs by 2025, which translates to an 18 per cent relative reduction by 2018.

In addition to the campaign, the Ministry of Health through the Health Promotion Centre is conducting a survey on Knowledge, Attitude and Practice of NCDs among Bruneians until January 25 next year.

This nationwide health survey, which began on December 6, aims to assess the effectiveness of tobacco control in Brunei and of the “National Campaign Against Non-Communicable Diseases 2014” in promoting a healthy lifestyle among people in the country. This survey is taking place in all four districts and involves face-to-face interviews with selected households during non-office hours, weekends and on public holidays.

The survey targets residents of Brunei Darussalam aged 15 years and above. During their interviews at the selected addresses, research assistants and officers from the Ministry of Health will display their identification passes and authorisation letters.

In a recent interview with The Brunei Times, Dr Hj Muhd Syafiq Abdullah, head of the Non-Communicable Diseases Unit at the Health Promotion Centre under the Ministry of Health, said the drive is one of the first national NCD campaigns introduced in Brunei, encompassing all aspects of NCDs from risk factor prevention to disease control.

“It will not be a one-off event, as there are programmes planned to sustain the health messages in all four districts and in various settings, including schools, workplaces and the community,” said Dr Hj Muhd Syafiq, adding that progress has been very positive, as the response has been encouraging, although it’s still too early to tell what the outcome or impact will be.

Asked about the targets that the NCD Unit at the Ministry of Health hopes to achieve next year, he said: ”We would like to increase our capacity in monitoring and evaluation. It’s a new unit. We’re recruiting skilled experts in the field so we can have a more accurate picture of the progress on NCD prevention and control in Brunei.”

• What are Non-Communicable Diseases?

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are those that are not passed from person-to-person. They are generally slow progressing and can take years to develop. The four main types of NCDs are cardiovascular disease (such as heart attacks and strokes), cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases (such as asthma).

• What is the impact of NCDs?

NCDs are the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. It’s estimated that 36 million people die each year from NCDs. Of this total, at least 25 per cent die before the age of 60. NCDs affect people of all ages and income levels globally, causing complications leading to deterioration in life quality, work performance, productivity and premature deaths. This will also result in psychological and socioeconomic impacts on their families and careers.

• What is the current trend of NCDs in Brunei?

NCDs have been the top killer diseases for the past three decades. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke have consistently been the top four causes of death in Brunei.

The Brunei Times