BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Ministry of Health is aiming to reduce deaths from non-communicable disease (NCDs) to 10 percent per 100,000 people, according to the ministry’s strategic plan for 2019 to 2023. 

Published on Monday, the five-year plan outlines the government’s public health priorities, including reducing the mortality rate for NCDs from its 2017 level of 14.3 percent per 100,000 people to 10 percent by 2023.

NCDs such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke accounted for 52.5 percent of deaths in Brunei in 2017.

The country’s obesity rate among adults is 28 percent — the highest in the region —  and among adolescents 18.9 percent.

Among the health targets to decrease the prevalence of NCDs, the MoH aims to reduce the rate of physical inactivity among adolescents from the current level of 87 percent to 74 percent by 2023; and decrease consumption of sweetened beverages among children from 46.2 percent to 23.1 percent.

It also aims to reduce tobacco use among the population from 19.9 percent to 14 percent; and decrease the rate of people with high blood pressure from 28 percent to 21 percent.

The ministry said it will also develop national health screening guidelines on NCDs and establish new registries for cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and renal disease.

The current life expectancy in Brunei is 77 years, but MoH said it wants to raise life expectancy for both sexes to 79 years by 2023.

Boosting awareness on mental and sexual health

The ministry’s strategic plan also calls for a multi-sectoral task force on mental health promotion and illness prevention, which will eventually lead to the formulation of mental health action plan for 2020 to 2023.

MoH said it will also create a campaign to socialise mental health issues in schools, workplaces and the community, and establish a baseline on mental health status and issues in Brunei.

On sexual and reproductive health, the ministry said it will develop an awareness and prevention programme through partnerships with relevant stakeholders.

It also plans to introduce an adolescent-friendly community centre with comprehensive services for adolescents in Brunei.