THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF HEALTH ATTENDS THE
SEVENTIETH SESSION OF THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION REGIONAL COMMITTEE FOR THE WESTERN PACIFIC
IN MANILA, PHILIPPINES
7-11 October 2019
1. The Honourable Minister of Health, Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad Isham bin Haji Jaafar, is currently attending the 70th Session of the World Health Organization Regional Committee for the Western Pacific in Manila, Philippines that runs from 7th October to 11th October 2019.
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 70th year the Regional Committee has convened and is the first meeting under the leadership of the new Regional Director Dr Takeshi Kasai. The Honourable Minister of Health, Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad Isham bin Haji Jaafar, was elected as the Vice-Chair for this year's session of the Regional Committee.
3. Among the agenda of the meeting was the discussion on the white paper For the Future: Towards the Healthiest and Safest Region – a policy paper developed to respond to current and future health challenges in the Region and to articulate the vision for WHO's work with Member States and partners in the coming five years. In response to this discussion, Brunei Darussalam, noted that the priorities for the Western Pacific Region outlined in this White Paper align closely with that of Brunei Darussalam as reflected in the new Ministry of Health Strategic Plan 2019-2023. He further shared that this Strategic Plan prioritizes five key goals namely:
- Excellence in health care services
- Non-Communicable Diseases prevention and control
- Protection of public health through effective policies and regulations
- Sustainability through resource optimisation and innovation
- Transparent and proactive governance.
4. Other discussion items at the meeting include consideration of resolutions on protecting children from the harmful impact of food marketing, action to fight antimicrobial resistance, tobacco control, and promoting well-being into older age. In addition, the Regional Committee will discuss progress in a number of regional programmes, including health security, noncommunicable diseases and mental health, and climate change.
5. On the issue of protecting children from the harmful impact of food marketing, Brunei Darussalam shared concerns over the rise of obesity especially amongst children despite increased awareness of healthy eating among the population and health awareness programmes on healthy eating. In this matter, Brunei Darussalam called for concerted action to take into account how, with their capacity to shape public opinion on food consumption, media companies and online technology industries, can operate responsibly and in the public interest.
6. On tobacco control, Brunei Darussalam identified the illicit trade of tobacco products and the marketing of products such as e-cigarettes, vapes and heated tobacco products as major areas of concern. In addressing the issue, Ministry of Health is working with the Ministry of Finance and Economy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and law enforcement agencies, towards the ratification of the Protocol to Eliminate the Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products. In addition, the Ministry of Health has strengthened the accessibility and quality of smoking cessation services across the health sector, and aim to strengthen enforcement of existing tobacco control legislation.
7. At the panel discussion on ageing and health. Brunei Darussalam shared its approaches in response to changing demographics with increasing older population. In meeting the healthcare needs of the elderly population, a shift in approach from hospital-based to delivering care closer to home has been identified, to which a community-based day care centre, Pusat Amal Cerah Sihat, for older individuals, their families and carers has been established in partnership with the private sector and civil society. Brunei Darussalam shared that it values aging as an asset and will continue to work towards supporting the elderly to live independently with age-friendly healthcare systems in place.
8. The Honourable Minister of Health, Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad Isham bin Haji Jaafar is accompanied by Yang Mulia Dr Awang Hj Zulaidi bin Hj Abdul Latif, Deputy Permanent Secretary (Professional) along with other senior officials from the Ministry of Health.
Date : 08 October 2019
Reference : KK/PR/4