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Ng Eng Hen, National Service

'1 in 5 SAF servicemen has asthma, but it's mild'

Published on May 15, 2012 6:00 AM

One in five servicemen in the Singapore Armed Forces has asthma, but his condition is usually mild - mild enough for most of those with the disease to be considered combat-fit.

Over the past 20 years, many with asthma have been put through military training 'without adverse effects', Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in Parliament on Monday, as he explained the medical screening procedures that men undergo before enlisting for national service.

But he also gave the assurance SAF's paramedics are trained and equipped to handle any asthma attacks, such as using inhalers or providing supplemental oxygen. 'Around 20 per cent of our servicemen are found to have some form of asthma, of which (the) majority are mild. Many of them have been put through training without adverse effects.'

Dr Ng made these comments after Ms Irene Ng (Tampines GRC) asked whether the SAF should relook its screening for pre-enlistees. The question came in the wake of a spate of deaths of SAF servicemen: This year, five men have died while in camp or in a training area.

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