Brunei establishes nat'l cancer centre


BRUNEI now has its own National Cancer Centre (NCC) located at the Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC).

The project, which opened its doors to patients on December 21, 2009, is a collaboration between the Ministry of Health (MoH) and JPMC.

It is aimed to "serve Bruneians" instead of making a business.

The centre aims to create a more comfortable and stress-free environment for patients undergoing cancer treatment.

Specialist oncologist Dr Hj Mohd Syafiq Abdullah at the NCC explained that patients who come to the centre for consultation and treatment have to pay the regular government subsided $1 fee (for Bruneians) or $3 for permanent residents.

Dr Hj Mohd Syafiq further told The Brunei Times that for foreigners, the NCC was in the process of sorting out a "package" in terms of treatment and medicinal costs, apart from having to pay a registration fee of $5.

The project's first phase, which is a day-care treatment facility for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, is operational. Renovations and construction of phases two, three and four are under way.

Dr Hj Mohd Syafiq explained that phase two of the NCC was for in-patients (patients admitted into the facility), phase three to accommodate more day-care patients, while phase four will involve a new building for radiotherapy and facilities such as a research centre.

"Hopefully by March, all three phases will be completed. However, phase four, which is the construction of a new building, will be completed in two years' time, InsyaAllah," he said.

Currently, all cancer patients still need to follow the normal procedure of going to the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (Ripas) Hospital for consultations. If they are referred to the NCC from Ripas, then patients will undergo chemotherapy treatments and consultations at the NCC.

Dr Hj Mohd Syafiq added that all surgeries involving cancer will still be done at Ripas. "In the future, we have planned to also have the surgeries and general screening done at the NCC," he said.

However, the specialist oncologist said that the NCC could not run without people to run it.

"Even if we have the best machines, we still need doctors. Right now, we are trying to recruit two more doctors at the NCC (apart from him and his colleague)."

He added, "We are planning to do recruitment in the short-term and training for the long-term."

The NCC is also the first of the Ministry of Health facilities to introduce the Electrical Medical Record (EMR) e-health system. "This is an efficient system which helps us to get rid of bulky records and prevent missing files from happening," he said.

Dr Hj Mohd Syafiq explained that patients' x-ray films, for instance, were digitilised.

With a pharmacy unit at the NCC, patients do not have to wait to pick up their prescribed medicines any longer with the new EMR system.

"If a doctor prescribes medicine for a patient, then he will key it into the system and the pharmacy unit will get the medicine ready. By the time the patient gets to the pharmacy unit, all they have to do is pick it up," he explained.

Currently, the three-storey facility can accommodate 22 patients. However, Dr Hj Mohd Syafiq said that they are trying to increase the number of beds to accommodate 26 patients.

A 69-year-old cancer patient who declined to be named was one of the patients who was at the NCC for a day's chemotherapy session.

She said, "This place is very comfortable and is kind of modern. The treatment so far is the 'best' and the nurses have been very helpful."

Also, she said that having her treatment at the centre was much better than going somewhere like Singapore. "I am impressed with the quality of facilities and treatment here even though this my first time undergoing treatment."

The Brunei Times

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