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Minister of Health Attends the 69th session of WHO's Regional Committee for the Western Pacific




8-12 October 2018

1.           The Honourable Minister of Health, Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad Isham bin Haji Jaafar, is currently attending the 69th Session of the World Health Organization Regional Committee for the Western Pacific in Manila, Philippines that runs from 8th October to 12th October 2018.


2.           Health ministers and representatives from 37 countries and areas within the Western Pacific Region convene annually at the Regional Committee Meeting to discuss priorities and actions that will bring better health to the population of the region. This is the 69th year the Regional Committee has met and this year saw the attendance of the Director-General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanum Ghebreyesus and Dr Shin Young-Soo, the outgoing Regional Director of the Western Pacific Region alongside 23 Health Ministers from the Western Pacific Region.


3.   During the meeting, the Honourable Minister of Health noted that the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) remains a national priority, and Brunei Darussalam seeks to strengthen its existing collaboration with the Western Pacific Regional Office, in particular on the development of cancer and NCD registries that can yield high quality information for action. The Honourable Minister also shared on Brunei's achievements in the field of tuberculosis (TB) control over the decades as an early achiever of the TB-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). However, he also noted that recent years had seen stagnation in these achievements and he sought innovative approaches to tackling this issue. The Honourable Minister highlighted that successful collaboration is measured on how the action plans can be translated into real change to improve the health and wellbeing of the population.


4.        The meeting also discussed on matters related to neglected tropical diseases, rehabilitation, strengthening legal frameworks for the sustainable development goals (SDGs), harnessing e-health for improved service delivery, and improving hospital planning and management.


5.        On strengthening legal frameworks for the sustainable development goals, the Minister shared on efforts in Brunei Darussalam to meet Sustainable Development Goal 3 – "ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages'. He noted that Brunei Darussalam makes full use of legal frameworks to that effect and over recent years have introduced legislation such as the Tobacco Order 2005 and the Infectious Disease Act Cap. 204. The Honourable Minister discussed that when new legislation is developed from the outset, implementation of said legislation must be considered in parallel such as responsibilities for coordination, monitoring and enforcement, clarity of offences and penalties for non-compliance, resource requirements and development of new skills. He stressed that legal mechanisms on their own will not automatically result in the change that is needed to support the health agenda. The success of a health-related legislation depends ultimately on the engagement of the public as the key stakeholder. This is why legal instruments that address health must go hand in hand with systematic efforts to improve health literacy and community outreach.


6.        The meeting further discussed on issues relating to public health emergencies. Brunei Darussalam reiterated its continuous support towards ensuring a resilient health system that is able to absorb the shock of a public health emergency while at the same time continue to provide essential regular health care. This means that core capacity strengthening for emergency preparedness cannot be conducted in silo, but must be integrated within the overall health system in line with best practices as mandated by the International Health Regulations (2005).


7.        During the session, the meeting also nominated Dr Takashi Kasai from Japan as the new Regional Director for the Western Pacific for the term of 5 years.


8.        Also attending the meeting were Yang Mulia Dr Haji Zulaidi Abdul Latif, Deputy Permanent Secretary (Professional) and other officials at the Ministry of Health.

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Date           : 10 September 2018

Reference : KK/PR/2