Equity in access to healthcare in Brunei Darussalam: Results from the Brunei Darussalam Health System Survey (HSS)
Background: Universal healthcare has been promoted by organizations including the World Health Organization and United Nations as a means of ensuring healthcare access for vulnerable populations. Despite momentum towards universal healthcare, especially among Southeast Asian nations, little research has been conducted to understand healthcare equity in nations that have already implemented universal healthcare. This paper assesses equity in healthcare access in Brunei Darussalam using results from the Brunei Darussalam Health System Survey (HSS).
Methods: Data were gathered using a nationally-representative survey of 1,197 households across four districts in Brunei Darussalam. The Health System Survey aimed to measure individual's expectations and utilization of the Brunei national healthcare system. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and multinomial logistic regression to identify respondent- and household-level characteristics that affect healthcare utilization and expenditures.
Results: HSS data suggest that healthcare utilization in Brunei varies by ethnicity, district of residence, health status, and income. When compared to other ethnic groups, Chinese households were significantly less likely to utilize public healthcare and significantly more likely to utilize private healthcare services. Indigenous groups also demonstrated significantly lower rates of private healthcare utilization compared to other ethnicities. Temburong district had the lowest rates of both private and public healthcare utilization and was associated with a 2.67 decreased likelihood of using public healthcare in the past six months. When stratifying for health status, data indicate that healthcare utilization in Brunei is proportional to healthcare need, with 93 percent of respondents in poor health reporting using government hospitals 12 or more times in the past six months compared to 76 percent of respondents in excellent health reporting using healthcare only once in the past six months. Income was also found to be positively associated with increased healthcare expenditures and private healthcare use.
Conclusion: This study highlights an example of a universal healthcare system in Southeast Asia and indicates that a well-funded universal healthcare system can reduce significant utilization disparities. Substantial financial resources do not, however, guarantee equity among rural and minority populations and universal healthcare efforts should incorporate measures to understand and address barriers to healthcare among these groups.
Pacific Rim studies
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