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1.           We have the power to take action to reduce our risk of developing cancer. This is why, the theme for this years' World Cancer Day, 'We can, I can' is especially relevant.  Many of us have been personally affected or know someone with cancer. On average, about 600 people in Brunei Darussalam are diagnosed with cancer yearly and it accounts for more than 20% of deaths. Ministry of Health data indicate that more than 1 in 4 Bruneians will be diagnosed with cancer in his or her lifetime.


2.           What can we do about it? 'Health is Everyone's Business' has been highlighted before. As individuals and as a community, we need to take responsibility in looking after ourselves by reducing our exposure to cancer risk factors. Two big risk factors for cancer continue to pose challenges in Brunei Darussalam: smoking and obesity.


3.           20% of adults in Brunei are smokers and this is responsible for nearly a quarter of all cancer deaths. Similarly, 61% of Bruneians are overweight and obese (the highest rate in ASEAN). Both smoking and obesity are strongly linked with an increased risk of a number of common cancers including breast, lung and bowel cancers. The good news is that many of these cancers are potentially preventable. In fact, about a half of all cancers can be prevented through:

  • Stopping smoking
  • Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and dietary fibre
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Being physically active with 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five times a week.


4.           On a broader level, our individual behaviours, such as the food we eat and how much walking we do, are influenced by socio-environmental factors. Therefore, we call upon partners to join us in changing the context towards empowering individuals to make healthy choices. Programs such as healthier choice initiatives in supermarkets and food premises, healthier menus in school canteens and workplaces, promoting sports and recreational programmes in communities such as Bandarku Ceria all play their part in creating a "health promoting environment" that makes the healthy choice, the easy choice. On this particular aspect, all of us must do more, and must do better


5.           In addition to working with partners at the policy level to promote healthier environments, the Ministry of Health, along with The Brunei Cancer Centre, continues to improve medical services for patients, especially in ensuring that suspected cancers are referred to the appropriate specialty in order to diagnose cancer early, and start the necessary treatment in a timely manner. This is in line with our three strategic priorities which are to enhance the quality of service delivery, prevent and control non-communicable diseases, and to inculcate that health is everyone's business.


6.           Key to defeating cancer is early detection. Screening tools, now exist for a number of different cancers including breast and cervical cancer. These are tests which detects cancer or pre-cancerous changes early before we develop the symptoms of the disease and can make subsequent treatment more effective. Screening can save lives and we must use these tools wisely in our fight against cancer.


7.           In conclusion, on this World Cancer Day, let us reflect on how we all – as a collective and as individuals – can do our part to reduce the burden of cancer in Brunei Darussalam. We Can inspire action to create health environments. I Can make healthy lifestyle choices and get educated on cancer screening. More than just the healthcare sector, cancer prevention and control needs every one of us to play our part. Let us not miss this opportunity to do something positive today for ourselves and our families.

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