'Health buses' to ply opposition wards

PA grassroots bodies raise $600k for mobile clinics to serve Aljunied, Hougang residents

Residents of Aljunied and Hougang constituencies will get to go for health screenings at carparks near their homes.

The People's Association (PA) grassroots bodies in the opposition-held wards have raised about $600,000 to buy two medium- sized Mercedes-Benz buses to be converted into mobile clinics.

To ply both wards in the next 18 months, the buses will be staffed by volunteer doctors and nurses. The service will be rolled out from next week.

The mobile service would "bring health education and services to the doorsteps of residents", said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong during the launch yesterday at Serangoon Community Club.

Eight hundred seniors are expected to get full health checks, 2,000 to be given vaccinations, and another 10,000 taught how to take care of their health, Mr Gan added.

Serangoon Citizens' Consultative Committee chairman Chan Hui Yuh said the service would be a throwback to the kampung days, when mobile clinics travelled to villages to provide medical services.

Ms Chan, one of the grassroots leaders behind the project, is also chair of the People's Action Party (PAP) branch at Serangoon, one of five divisions in Aljunied that fell to the Workers' Party during the 2011 General Election.

Brushing off suggestions that the health service was launched in the opposition-held wards to win over voters, Mr Gan said on the sidelines of the launch: "That was not a consideration.

"The main consideration was that this is a ground-up initiative."

He added: "There are many other initiatives at other wards as well."

The Straits Times understands that the PAP Community Foundation donated about two-thirds of the $600,000 raised by the PA grassroots leaders to launch the service. The health screening services will be conducted by volunteer doctors and nurses from healthcare cooperative The Good Life.

Dr Carol Tan, chairman of the cooperative, said she had no issues working with the PA grassroots bodies at Aljunied and Hougang.

"(The provision of) health (services) is above political affiliation. Aljunied raised the money very fast, so they walk the talk," said the geriatrician who runs a private practice at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre.

"We work with anyone who approaches us. We started in Marine Parade this year, and Dr Amy Khor has also asked me to extend the services to her (Hong Kah North) constituency."

The cooperative charges $99 for a basic health screening package that covers ailments such as knee pain, poor eyesight and hearing.

One resident who is looking forward to the service is retired kitchen worker Teo Kin Nang, 70.

"It is more convenient," said Madam Teo, who lives in Serangoon. "I don't have any major health problem, but it is always good to go for health checks regularly."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2015, with the headline ''Health buses' to ply opposition wards'. Print Edition | Subscribe