Brunei Medical Insurance
Officially known as the State of Brunei Darussalam, Brunei is a small country in Southeast Asia. Located on the north eastern coast of the island of Borneo, which it shares with Indonesia and Malaysia, Brunei is made up of two unconnected pieces of land that are seated in Malaysia's Sarawak State. Despite only being 5,765 km&sub2; in size, it contains some of the largest oil fields in all of Southeast Asia. This has given Brunei a strong driver for economic growth, which averaged 56% from 1999 to 2008. In 2009 Brunei was ranked as 4th in the world for GDP per capita at purchasing power parity by the International Monetary Fund with a population that hit 395,027 in July 2010. Aside from economic success, Brunei has also been able to spare a large portion of its above-ground resources, allowing the country to maintain its primary rainforest, making it the most intact rainforest in all of Borneo. This has left a beautifully vibrant country to live in and for travelers to visit.
Brunei provides health care for its citizens are through a government-operated healthcare system. The Ministry of Health is the branch of the government responsible for all parts of the health care system within Brunei, which include; hospitals, nursing services, laboratories, pharmacies, renal and dental services. Its goal is to improve the health and well-being of the people of Brunei through a comprehensive and high quality health care system that is affordable, accessible, effective and responsive to all those within the country. The majority of health facilities are within the public sector but Brunei does contain a small, but effective private medical sector. With healthcare provided through public health facilities, citizens receive free health care while expatriates working within the country only pay minimal charges for the services provided. In rural areas, where it can be difficult to travel to a facility for care, the Flying Medical Services division will fly patients by helicopter to the nearest hospital. For expatriates it is important to consider a international medical insurance that will cover emergency medical transportation from rural areas in Brunei where ground traveling conditions are difficult.
There are only 2 hospitals in Brunei's private sector, both of which are capable of providing specialized medical treatment. The Jerudong Park Medical Centre and Gleneagles JPMC Cardiac Centre are open to the public and provide high standards of care for patients. The government health coverage plan will cover charges for citizens using these facilities, but expatriates should check with their health insurance provider about coverage before using these facilities.
As of 2008, Brunei contained 4 government run hospitals, 2 private hospitals, 16 health centers, 14 maternal and child health clinics, 8 traveling health clinics and 4 Flying Medical Services teams for remote areas. The Ministry of Defense also runs 9 medical centers that provide care for its personnel and their families. Though no hospitals in Brunei were undergoing international healthcare accreditation, medical care provided in hospitals is generally of a high quality, especially Brunei’s largest hospital, Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha, which contains modern and cutting-edge medical technology and is located in Brunei’s capital, Bandar Seri Begawan. There are more basic medical facilities in the country, where hospital supplies have been known to run low on occasion and can prevent a person from receiving proper care. If complications were to arise, such as lack of medical supplies, a medical evacuation to Singapore, or even Thailand, could be necessary. An expatriate should obtain an international health insurance plan that would help cover international medical evacuation.
Brunei is a modernized country with high standards of living and has almost eradicated a majority of tropical diseases, but there are still some other diseases present that could present some risk for expatriates or visiting travelers. Dengue fever is still seen within Brunei and is a real risk during any time of the year, but other diseases spread through mosquitoes, such as malaria, are very low risk factors. It is recommended to get vaccinated against typhoid, hepatitis A and tetanus, and expatriates should be careful of contracting bacterial diarrhea. The tap water is not safe to drink, but bottled water is readily accessible within urban areas. If you cannot find bottle water within rural areas, be sure to filter and boil water to eliminate any bacteria or pathogens in the water. Milk in Brunei is unpasteurized which carries some bacteriologic risks. HIV/AIDS is seen in the country, but less than 0.1% of the population is infected, meaning fewer than 200 people, and is not considered a large risk for expatriates.
Brunei’s has a typical equatorial climate with high temperatures and a rich annual rainfall, and has two separate monsoon seasons during the year. First the southeastern monsoon extends from June until October, and then the Northeastern monsoon hits the country from December to March. This then leaves Brunei with April, May, November and early December for some of the driest periods in the year, which also are the most popular time for travelers to visit.
With safety and security always being a question for expatriates, Brunei is one of the safest countries in the world, in terms of political and social conflict. But when visiting the country it is important to understand and respect the religious beliefs and laws, braking curtain laws can have severe consequences. Brunei is an Islamic country and the local laws reflect that fact, for example possession of pornographic material and homosexual activity is illegal. Alcohol is illegal to sell within Brunei, but non-Muslims can import two bottles of wine or spirits and twelve cans of beer on entry into Brunei.