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4 February 2018





1.    Today, the 4th February marks World Cancer Day and Brunei Darussalam together with other countries around the world, once again, will continue to raise awareness and take action to prevent and mitigate the effects of cancer. For three years now, the theme for World Cancer Day is 'We Can, I Can' indicating that all of us, no matter our backgrounds, age or where we live or work, can take different actions to reduce our risk of developing cancer.


2.    Many of us have been personally affected or know someone with cancer. On average, about 600 people in Brunei Darussalam diagnosed with cancer every year. The top three most common cancer amongst men were bowel, lung and prostate cancer whereas breast, bowel and cervical cancer were the commonest amongst women. In 2016 alone, Brunei Darussalam saw 353 deaths, which accounted for more than 20% of total deaths in the country. Sadly, the mean age of people diagnosed with cancer are 50.1 years for breast cancer (females), 49.0 years for cervix cancer (females), 65.5 years for lung cancer and 60.1 years for colorectal cancer.

3.    However, the good news is 30 – 50% of cancers can be prevented. Several common cancers, including breast, lung and bowel cancers are of a higher risk among people who are overweight or obese and smoker. Hence, You and I Can prevent cancer by avoiding risk factors and taking preventive measures such as:


  • Stopping smoking and avoiding exposure to second hand smoke;
  • Maintaining a healthy weight from childhood and throughout life;
  • Ensuring that you take 2-3 portions of fruits and 2-3 portions vegetables daily;
  • Reducing intake of high fat meals; and
  • Being physically active for at least 30 minutes, five times or more in a week.


4.    In Brunei, there is a probability that 1 in 4 people will be affected by cancer in their lifetime. We Can proactively take steps to look for early signs of certain cancer through effective screening. Individuals with a strong family history of cancer and risk factors are advised to undergo periodic screening. Early detection and adequate treatment can increase the chance of cancer being cured and hence, in the long term, it can reduce healthcare cost by reducing the burden of expensive and intensive treatment when diseases are discovered in the later stage.


5.    Ministry of Health, at present, offers some of the cancer screening services including pap smear test for cervical cancer, clinical breast examination and mammogram for breast cancer, tests to detect bleeding in the bowel (FOB) and colonoscopy for bowel cancer. Apart from screening, Ministry of Health also invests in cancer prevention such as Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and Hepatitis B vaccine. In terms of cancer management, the Ministry of Health also continues to work closely with The Brunei Cancer Centre (TBCC) especially with their new additional services such as radiotherapy and nuclear medicine can help to improve the management and care for cancer patients. In addition, in conjunction with World Cancer Day, The Pantai Jerudong Specialist Centre through Maxillofacial, Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Centre will organise Free Cancer Screening for mouth and neck and skin of the head and neck in February, March and April to all the people of Brunei Muara district, Belait District, Tutong Ditrict and Temburong district that will be held in their respective hospitals.


6.    While there are a variety of things we can do, the most important factor is to be responsible for our own health. The lifestyle choices that we make every day very much depends on our physical and socio-cultural environment. The food cooked and available to us at home, canteens, restaurants and supermarkets determines the type of food we consume daily. Likewise, our 30 minutes daily exercise can only be done accordingly by our ability to integrate it into our daily schedules as well as our accessibility to fitness facilities and recreation centers.


7.    The Ministry of Health has also collaborated with other ministries as a whole government approach in the Multisectoral Taskforce to tackle the Non-communicable diseases problem of the people of Brunei Darussalam. Four main focus areas that are being discuss in the taskforce are improving Brunei's food environment, giving every child the best start in life, supporting active communities in Brunei and reducing tobacco use. One of the action taken under improving Brunei's food environment is to work with private sector such as local food industries, supermarkets and restaurants on the Healthier Choice Initiative, which includes our own Healthier Choice Logo, Healthy Supermarket Programme and Healthy Restaurant Programme. This ambitious initiative aims to provide healthier food choices in the local market and to make these more accessible to the public.


8.    In this regards, initiatives by civil society or community groups, associations and NGOs to promote awareness and conduct healthy lifestyle activities to prevent cancer and other chronic diseases are very much welcome and we look forward to such collaborations. The Ministry of Health will not be able to fight this disease alone, it is only through collaborative and synergistic efforts or whole-of-nation approach such as those mentioned above that We Can together eventually achieve our health targets and national Vision 2035 of high quality of life for our people, which is also in line with the Ministry of Health's vision – Together Towards a Health Nation and its priority to inculcate Health is Everyone's Business.