$12m spent on overseas treatment

Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Adanan Begawan Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Seri Setia Hj Mohd Yusof during yesterday's sitting of LegCo 2013. Picture: BT/ Yusri Adanan

THE Brunei government has spent more than $12 million a year for the last two years on overseas medical expenses for complex and chronic diseases, said the Minister of Health yesterday.

For those suffering from these ailments, for which treatment is not yet available in the country, the government has also given an allowance of $30 per day per patients as well as their companions.

Which government would give health care assistance and allowance (for its people)?, said Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Adanan Begawan Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Seri Setia Hj Mohd Yusof.

The government bears the cost of overseas medical treatment; in addition to that it also bears the travel fare of one of the patient's family members.

The response from the minister came was directed to Yang Berhormat Datin Paduka Hjh Zasia Sirin, on the thirteenth day of the Ninth Legislative Council session, who questioned whether the ministry has any plans to review the rate of allowance for patients and their companions.

The minister then called for the country's people to be grateful for the health assistance provided by the government.

In 2011-2012, 327 patients were treated in Singapore and Malaysia, which totalled to $10, 838, 035.06, for medical treatments in Singapore and $1, 016,535.00 in Malaysia, the minister said.

In 2010-2011, the total spending totalled at $10,953,387.00 in Singapore and $1,364,000.98 in Malaysia, added the minister.

Still on the issue of patients undergoing medical treatment overseas, Brunei-Muara Zone 3 LegCo representative, YB Hj Tahamit Hj Nudin said based on the current policy, a civil servant can make use of their annual leave to accompany family members for medical treatment overseas.

If their annual leave runs out, they can apply for advance annual leave or unpaid leave, as these medical treatments often takes two to nine months, with the exception for medical review that only takes a week, he added.

He said, the question here was whether we can resort to taking unpaid leave if they used their entire annual or advance annual leave.

YB Pehin Dato Hj Adanan said matters of taking leave were not under the ministry's jurisdiction, but the Prime Minister's Office. However, he said, InsyaAllah the matter will be brought up to the relevant authorities.

The minister, at the session, reminded the LegCo members that it was important that we not only think of asking what we want, but we need to, together, think of way to make it a win-win situation not only for the patients involved but also the government. We are all responsible in sharing the burden.The Brunei Times

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