Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Brunei - 44 pct of diabetes cases undiagnosed in Brunei: health ministry

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, June 25 (Xinhua) -- Around 44 percent of diabetic cases in Brunei are undiagnosed, which means that more than 20,000 Bruneians are unknowingly living with diabetes, according to a research conducted by Brunei's health ministry.

In a statement issued Friday, the Ministry of Health (MoH) said that 12.4 percent of adults have diabetes in Brunei, which is the leading cause of blindness, kidney disease and amputations among Bruneian adults.

People with diabetes are also two to four times more likely to experience heart attacks and strokes, the ministry said.

In its statement, the MoH said almost 90 percent of people living with Type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, which is defined as having a body mass index or BMI of 30 or greater.

In Brunei, six in 10 adults are overweight and obese, making the country the "fattest" in ASEAN.

However, obesity is no longer a condition that just affects older people in Brunei as the number of younger people being diagnosed with obesity has been increasing, the MoH said.

"Among our children, 33 percent are overweight and 18 percent are obese," said the statement.

"Without a change in our behavior, the number of obese adults in the country is forecast to soar. This will prove devastating for the country and pose a real barrier towards our national development," the ministry said.

To prevent diabetes, the MoH said the most important measure one can take is to have a healthy diet and to exercise regularly in the form of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity such as brisk walking, cycling and swimming every day.

The ministry also urged those who are overweight and at risk of diabetes to get tested by a doctor.

Brunei - Brunei's obesity prevalence close to 30 pct: health ministre

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, May 25 (Xinhua) -- Obesity prevalence is close to 30 percent while the diabetes rate is over 12 percent in Brunei, Brunei's minister of health told the World Health Organization Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, local news daily Brunei Times reported Wednesday.

Brunei's health minister, Dr Hj Zulkarnain said days ago in Geneva that tackling non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Brunei poses challenges that cannot be met by Brunei's Ministry of Health (MoH) alone.

In a statement issued by MoH, the minister said success demands intersectoral collaboration and significant behavioral change among the population.

"We want to empower communities and individuals to take responsibility for their own health. This will not be straightforward," he said.

The minister said to tackle the threat of NCDs, "we must face up to its key determinant -- societal behavior and lifestyles."

He said Brunei adopted a two-pronged approach to the issue of behavior change.

"At the individual level, we engage our clients using brief interventions at all points of contact. At the population level, we are actively developing choice architecture that provides a clear nudge towards healthier decisions."

There is also a need to address the commercial interests that stand to gain from the marketing of sugary drinks and unhealthy foods, Zulkarnain said.

The minister said Brunei will engage with the WHO and international partners to determine and test a comprehensive approach to address "profit-driven diseases."

Zulkarnain headed Brunei's delegation to the 69th WHO Assembly, which saw the attendance of 194 WHO members. The theme for this year's World Health Assembly is "Transforming the World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."

Myanmar - UN urges Myanmar to treat LGBT community in a dignified manner

The UNAIDS country coordinator has urged the Myanmar government, legislative bodies and people, not to discriminate against the LGBT community and to treat them in a dignified manner.

Mr. Eamonn Murphy, UNAIDS country coordinator,was speaking at an event marking ‘International Day of anti-discrimination and hatred against the LGBT community’.

Mr. Murphy said, “We need to call on both government and parliaments. All people are entitled to basic healthcare service regardless of their clothes and sexual orientation.”

Dr. Nyan Zawa commission member from the Myanmar Human Rights Commission said that discrimination against the LGBT community occurred in healthcare services, workplaces and society.

One person who was given psychiatric treatment for her sexual orientation said “There are many gays who are imprisoned under section 377 of the Penal Code. It will be good if these provisions can be amended.”

Section 377 of the Penal Code relates to committing unnatural sex.

The Myanmar Human Rights Commission is currently planning to amend the laws causing problems for the LGBT community.

Htet Htet

Myanmar - Myanmar parliament calls for halt to Parkway hospital project in Yangon

MYANMAR: Politicians in Myanmar’s lower house called for a stop on Thursday (May 12)  to the Parkway Yangon Hospital project.

The new hospital, costing US$70 million, was to provide a 250-bed private medical facility in downtown Yangon.

The previous government had approved the project, saying it would improve the healthcare standards and services to the Myanmar citizens, but the decision was reversed by the Lower House.

The project met with heavy criticism from some parliamentarians, medical practitioners and citizens. They argued that the project is sitting on government-owned public land, and it should therefore be a public facility.

As a private hospital, some pointed out that many citizens would not be able to afford the services provided. They also questioned the former government’s decision-making process on private projects.

According to an earlier press release by IHH Healthcare and Parkway Pantai, the hospital is located at downtown Yangon on a 4.3-acre plot of land leased for 50 years at prevailing market rate, with the option of two 10-year extensions.

The hospital was to be developed and operated by a joint venture consortium comprising Parkway Healthcare Indo-China (52 per cent), Singapore-incorporated Macondray Holdings (10.5 per cent), Myanmar-incorporated AMMK Medicare Company (21.5 per cent) and Global Star Company (16 per cent).

Parkway Healthcare Indo-China is the wholly-owned subsidiary of IHH Healthcare, which is the second-largest healthcare group by market capitalisation.

In response to media queries, Dr Lee Hong Huei, Head of Southeast Asia at Parkway Pantai, said they have not been approached by the Myanmar government on the issue.

"The build-operate-transfer agreement for the hospital project was formalised on Jan 29, 2016 and all contractual obligations to date have been fulfilled. Our intent is to work effectively with the local medical fraternity to elevate healthcare service standards through training, as well as knowledge and technology transfers," said Dr Lee.

He added that Parkway Pantai will await official notification from the Myanmar government before reviewing its options.

- CNA/kk/dl

May Wong

Myanmar - Health ministry to streamline donor-funded programs

The Ministry of Health will be streamlining and cutting back on development projects run by international and local agencies.

Health Minister Dr Myint Htwe told The Myanmar Times that reductions will be made with an eye toward eliminating duplication and redundancy in programs that work with the government health sector.

“We are going to scrutinise programs based on their disease infection rate, the health situation and health services provided,” he said. “For example, if the disease infection rate has decreased, we will not continue the program. We will also accept more health programs that work in areas outside Yangon and Mandalay.”

Additional projects catering to rural areas will be encouraged, the health minister added.

The scrutinising process has already begun. The health minister said that renegotiations may have to occur before the new government resigns any memorandums of understanding with NGOs, including UN agencies and other international partners.

“Most health programs are working with and supporting MoH activity. They report their program activity to the MoH. So we are going to review their activity and will select their project area,” he said.

Dr Myint Htwe, who spent over 15 years working with the regional World Health Organization office, said he aims to avoid duplications where multiple organisations are working on the same programs in the same area, and redundancies that lead to unnecessary health initiatives.

“Those kinds of programs are not beneficial for the public. We have limited government staffs, so we cannot help unnecessary programs. If health partners want to give us money then we are going to use it to maximise the benefit for the people,” Dr Myint Htwe said, adding that he will be working with the Myanmar Health Sector Coordination Committee to streamline the health activities.According to the health department, over 70 donors are working on projects with the Ministry of Health.

A director of an international aid organisation, who spoke on condition of anonymity, supported increased coordination of the sector, but said that the scrutinisation and reduction must be done carefully in order to avoid leaving beneficiaries in the lurch.

“I could not deny that there are some duplications and redundancies, but some programs that may appear that way are not. For example, just looking at a map, some organisations cover the same area with seemingly the same program, but on the ground their work and their activities are very different from each other.”

Retired medical superintendent and INGO health worker Dr Ba Shwe said the minister’s initiative is much-needed.

“I totally agree with the idea of reducing some development partners’ programs because I think some healthcare provided is not matching up with the expenditure of the health development partner,” he said. “Our country’s health status has not improved much compared to other countries. The government should ensure health projects have effective performance assessments.”

Shwe Yee Saw Myint

Myanmar - Health Ministry considers adding research procedures, medical ethics to curriculum

The Ministry of Health is considering the inclusion of research procedures and medical ethics in medical curriculum and is planning projects to serve physicians and other medical professionals.

The ministry plans to increase its budget to fund research at medical universities since current levels are not sufficient.

Since the 2012-2013 academic year, the matriculation score for entry to medical universities had been being high, and the number of medical students countrywide has been reduced in order to favour quality over quantity.

Also, post graduate diploma courses in medicine will admit not only the civil servants but also private sector physicians who have practiced since 2015. For the 2015-2016 academic year, the University of Medicine-1 has opened diplomas in obstetrics and gynaecology, child health education, pathology, anaesthetics, radiology and first aid.

According to data released by the Health Ministry, a total of 12,866 physicians, 674 dentists, 407 dental nurses and 30,793 medical nurses have already appointed in the public sector as of 2015.


Myanmar - Finland to prioritise Education, Health, and Gender in development plan

Finland is prioritising Education, Health, and Gender as part of its development plan for Myanmar. Mizzima’s Editor-in-Chief Soe Myint was in Helsinki at the invitation of Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for World Press Freedom Day on 3 May. Here he was able to conduct an exclusive interview with Ms. Lenita Toivakka, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development.

You mentioned about education, health and gender and women’s empowerment as key priorities for development. When it comes to Myanmar how about support to the media specifically because we have an emerging media process in the country. Do you have any programs now?

I think we don’t have that kind of program now for supporting free media in Myanmar. We have different kinds of programs and I know that our support is going to increase and will be higher than it has been recent years so Finnish support to Myanmar is increasing in different sectors. And the main sectors we are really going to focus on includes empowering women developing cooperation with a partner country. Then there is education, quality education, how to manage your resources better, then there is support for your democratic development.

At the moment it is government to government cooperation are you also going to work with other stakeholders?

It is government to government but at the same time it also with international organisations like the UN but also Finnish NGOs. Our education program is with a very valuable Finnish organisation. But we are also going to have cooperation with the UNDP.

Your government is supporting the peace process in Myanmar what is your view in relation to the ongoing peace process?

We want to support the good developments [taking place] at the moment. To give support to the new government and also to help you to respect the rule of law. It is very import for Finland to respect the rule of law and democracy and I think these are the issues we want to do with your country. Also to strengthen all kinds of democratic institutions you have now because we know it not so easy to just start that kind of work you may also need some support, expertise, and know-how.

We have a big issue in relation to capacity building even in the media sector or development sector there it is a major issue so what could countries like Finland do to offer support in the process?

We are actually doing this with other good organisations, these organisations have a great deal of experience in different countries. They have very good tools to strengthen your education system of course they work together with you, it is not something we are going to export from Finland because that doesn’t work. We have to do that with your people and your government together, I think that is the Finnish way to do this kind of cooperation.

In your view what is the interest of Finnish companies coming to Myanmar, and what kind of sector would they be looking into?

There is interest. I have a plan to come this year with a business delegation. Of course, first I would like to visit some the development cooperation projects but then I am going to come to your country with a business delegation and I think the sectors are clean technology, education sector, also maybe renewable energies, bio-economics because you have huge resources in your country. I think those sectors are very interesting when we think about your country.

But also at the same time, this good cooperation on development is a very good foundation to start trade cooperation also. I think we have many Finnish companies who can help build your country.