Dr Tan Cheng Bock's and Dr Kanwaljit Soin's respective articles in 1999. Still worth a read. A similar point of view published in 2007 in the Hong Kong Medical Journal. We must wonder what Dr Tan and Dr Soin would make of the recent clumsy and divisive politicking by their medical colleague, Dr Balakrishnan, the ophthalmologist and current Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports (Update: well, Dr Tan has made his views clear). Perhaps we can count it a small blessing that there were no other doctors on the Holland-Bukit Timah slate.
It is interesting to observe the pre-election activities and exchanges that are taking place now. Are there any healthcare issues that might concern the small minority of the electorate that are interested/directly involved? Or the way the healthcare system is being (re)tweaked in Singapore? Here are a few possibilities that have been raised - please rebut or add:
- Insufficient hospital beds - being belatedly addressed. "Slightly under-supply" being better than oversupply.
- Medical tourism and its impact on healthcare costs and resources (and also the possibility of importing more infectious agents into our hospitals).
- Cost of healthcare (Mr Leong Sze Hian is right on the money here). Means testing does not help to bring this down.
- Shoving through the new residency training scheme with little consultation or discussion.
- Private primary healthcare - more GPs becoming aesthetic doctors rather than dealing with an expanded scope of medical work like chronic diseases, etc.
- Class system - do patients suffer only from reduced "hotel services"? Note that Prof Roy Chan carefully did not state whether subsidized patients with non-urgent skin conditions had to wait longer for an appointment compared to private patients.
Since the previous speculative post, the ruling party has completed introducing its new candidates for the upcoming election. Dr Tan Wu Meng and Dr Abdul Razakjr will not be fielded this time round. We may never know if this was a party decision or their individual decisions. Certainly, the response that Dr Janil Puthucheary received must have been an unpleasant surprise. He must have been perceived to be an ideal candidate in many ways: bright, young, articulate, a tireless doctor (who saves children's lives while teaching at Duke-NUS), a new citizen, the son of an estranged founder returning to the fold. Major miscalculation.
Yesterday marked World Health Day 2011.
- Commit to a comprehensive, financed national plan with accountability and civil society engagement.
- Strengthen surveillance and laboratory capacity.
- Ensure uninterrupted access to essential medicines of assured quality.
- Regulate and promote rational use of medicines.
- Enhance infection prevention and control.
- Foster innovation and research & development for new tools.
Yesterday's issue of the Straits Times carried an article reporting that Dr Tan Cheng Bock (former MP) had stepped down from the board of the upcoming Ng Teng Fong Hospital (formerly referred to as Jurong General Hospital) because he had moral issues with the idea that "a rich man could pay to have a public institution named after him".
I doubt most doctors/healthcare staff actually care enough - as long as they are paid on time - whether they are working at the Ng Teng Fong Hospital or the Middle-Earth Herbarium or the Dimwit Flathead Medical Center of Frobozz.
More to the point, this does not actually set precedence. Alexandra Hospital's replacement was named Khoo Teck Puat Hospital following a $125 million donation by the late tycoon's family, whereas the older local medical school was renamed the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (this is a particular mouthful) for a slightly less astronomical price of $100 million. Tan Tock Seng Hospital is also named after a man, but the circumstances were considerably different. He had contributed much more than just a once-off pay-out, as did Michael Bloomberg who has his family name on the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (USD107 million in total donations over several years).
Should someone one day decide to contribute $150 million to any of the local hospitals/schools, will the current institutional names be replaced? That doesn't seem to speak very well of us, despite this creating sort of an incentive for huge public donations. Perhaps the practice should be reviewed and discontinued.