Sultan: There’s room for improvement in healthcare

Sultan Hassanal talking to a patient during the unscheduled visit to Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital. - BB

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: His Majesty Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said it is the monarch’s aspirations to continue the free provision of medical and healthcare services to the people despite the challenging economic situation, as maintaining life in accordance with Maqasid Syariah (Objective of Islamic Law) has to be prioritised.

The Sultan said this during an unscheduled visit to the Ministry of Health (MoH) Saturday (May 25).

The monarch said the MoH, with assistance from other ministries and government agencies, proved capable of tackling Covid-19, thus the nation was less impacted by the pandemic.

“The healthcare system however still has room for improvement. As such, the government has allocated a huge budget to upgrade and maintain hospitals and centres, construct new health centres and obtain new medical equipment in place of the old ones.

“In an effort to enhance healthcare services in the country and provide more job opportunities for locals, I have consented for 996 posts to be established by the MoH, in stages, until 2027. I wish to remind all parties, especially the management at the MoH, to exhibit honesty and trustworthiness.

“Every expense must be managed prudently, carefully and free from fraud, criminal breach of trust and corruption. There should not be short-cut practices in the management when it comes to the welfare and well-being of the people.”

While upgrading works are being carried out, the Sultan said, “I wish to remind the MoH not to ignore the grievances of the public such as long wait time to seek emergency treatment, and months-long wait for follow-ups.”

The monarch also noted other grievances such as patients being told of the unavailability of a medicine after hours of waiting at the dispenser.

The Sultan also touched on limited parking space at Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital, confusing information provided at health centres, such as changes to the services available, and turning away patients, that are not in the catchment area.

The monarch continued, “I was told hospitals and clinics warning patients against violence only to treat patients in a rude and abusive manner, including senior citizens and women who have just given birth.”

These matters, the monarch said, ”should not be taken lightly as we aspire to become a Zikir nation that practices Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB). His Majesty also said, “I don’t wish to hear about patients being neglected and worse, receive treatment vastly different from certain individuals.”

Regarding the welfare of the MoH, the Sultan emphasised the importance of addressing issues, such as work-life balance, overtime allowances and scheduling to limit undue burden.

The monarch also highlighted the culture of passing chainletters around as a means to channel grievances, which is subversive if it is used for the purpose of spreading false information with the aim of bringing down superiors they dislike. As such, the monarch called for the information to be verified before taking action.

The Sultan concluded the decree by extending appreciation for the efforts from the MoH in strengthening public health facilities.

“Some 70% of the 120 specialist and consultant posts is occupied by locals. I hope the ministry continues to produce specialists among the locals,” the Sultan said. - Borneo Bulletin/ANN

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