Bandar Seri Begawan - An international consultant from New Zealand praised Brunei's Minister of Health, Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Adanan bin Begawan Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Mohd Yusof for his efforts in putting words into action, and lauded the Ministry of Health for deterring smokers by upping the percentage of the surface area carrying health warnings on tobacco products to 75 per cent, which is the fourth best in the world.
Prof Robert Beaglehole, an international consultant from the University of Auckland highlighted this in his keynote address on 'The Need for Multi-Sectoral Action on Non-Communicable Diseases' at The Empire Hotel & Country Club yesterday.
He said, however, that more work still needs to be done, adding that there is a huge opportunity for the Sultanate to lead the world in non-communicable prevention control, not just in tobacco control.
"There is a wider responsibility for the minister in this country, the region and in the world," he said.
"It is easier to make changes and raise awareness in Brunei as it is smaller and wealthier The fundamental challenge for us with respect to activating non-communicable prevention and management is supporting leadership and acting on our leaders' desire to improve the well-being and health of citizens.
"Countries would not have healthy citizens unless we respond to non-communicable disease prevention and control."
Prof Beaglehole further said that the issue of being overweight or obese among children is a very serious issue in the Sultanate, just like in New Zealand, where food is part of life, and healthy food is not traditionally available.
But evidence suggests the issue can be successfully tackled, he said, adding that what is crucial is that adults set the tone in terms what food their children consume.
"With the rise in Type II diabetes and cases of heart disease, stroke, etc, we will find ourselves in a very terrible situation in the very near future," he said.
"We have watched the obesity epidemic evolve before our very eyes in the last 25 years. It is rising quickly, but we can deal with it relatively quickly and must see it as a priority. This will ensure a lot of preventable premature deaths."
As people are more interested in non-communicable disease prevention and control, the challenge is to help modify the environment as children grow up, teaching them to make healthier choices in terms of food and activity and so forth.
"We have to make Brunei the healthiest environment in the world for the sake of ourselves and for our children," Prof Beaglehole added.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin