Brunei Darussalam strongly supports the global preparation and response towards the COVID-19 pandemic. The two main approaches namely ‘the importance of enhanced surveillance and testing’ and ‘establishing an effective community engagement strategy’ has enabled Brunei Darussalam to control the spread of COVID-19 without a major scale lockdown. This was underlined by Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Doctor Awang Haji Mohammad Isham bin Haji Jaafar, Minister of Health in his keynote address at the 73rd World Health Assembly Virtual Session 2020.
The assembly was attended by Ministers of Health and representatives from 194 WHO member states. This year’s meeting aimed to focus on global preparation and response towards COVID-19 and ensure the continuity of global health administration under WHO, namely the appointment of new executive board members. This year’s assembly was chaired by Her Excellency Keva Bain from Bahamas as President of the Health Assembly.
At the virtual session, the Minister of Health also shared Brunei Darussalam’s lessons and experience in handling the COVID-19 pandemic. First, Yang Berhormat highlighted the importance of enhanced surveillance and testing. Brunei Darussalam is the early adopter in carrying out COVID-19 tests without the emergence of symptoms, and implemented random sample testing among foreign workers. Yang Berhormat added that the test-per-capita ratio for Brunei Darussalam is among the highest in the world, and believed that control efforts are vital in curbing the spread of COVID-19 among the society.
Second is establishing an effective community engagement strategy. In this matter, Yang Berhormat the Minister of Health shared on several strategies on it such as organising daily media conferences; operating a hotline specifically for public queries on COVID-19; and establishing a self-assessment application that is integrated with Artificial Intelligence capabilities as well as data analytics.
With the implementation of physical distancing, public services and businesses remain open and there is no movement restriction imposed within the country. The Minister of Health ended his keynote address by stating that the combination of approaches that are targeted as above can be made as a way forward for the coming months. Implementing de-escalation approaches in phases; take benefit of technology for contact tracing; and continuous cooperation with the World Health Organization, WHO and the global health community are effective strategies in safeguarding the nation’s response towards the COVID-19 pandemic. Also joining the virtual session was Doctor Haji Zulaidi bin Haji Abdul Latif, Deputy Permanent Secretary for Professional at the Ministry of Health.
Source: Radio Television Brunei