Health Minister Gan Kim Yong launches book on healthcare milestones

SINGAPORE - A book looking back at Singapore's milestones in healthcare was launched on Thursday by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who used the occasion to express his concern for those affected by the Hepatitis C outbreak at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

On Tuesday, SGH called a press conference to inform the public that at least 21 kidney patients have been infected with Hepatitis C between April and June while they were in its renal ward.

"As a healthcare family, we are all saddened by the Hepatitis C Cluster at SGH and our thoughts are with the patients and their families. We will provide them with the necessary support and treatment, and we will learn from this incident and improve ourselves," Mr Gan said in a speech.

He also thanked healthcare staff who had worked hard to care for patients at the launch of the book, titled Caring For Our People: 50 Years Of Healthcare In Singapore.

The book documents how the Republic fought to overcame outbreaks of cholera - an infectious and often fatal bacterial disease of the small intestine - and reduce the high rates of infant mortality in past decades, right up to the introduction of initiatives and policies to improve overall healthcare for Singaporeans in recent years.

They include the introduction of universal healthcare scheme MediShield Life, which provides insurance coverage for those previously uninsurable such as those with pre-existing conditions, and the building of new hospitals, such as the new Yishun Community Hospital - expected to be ready by the end of 2015 - to keep up with the needs of an ageing population.

More than 50 interviews with healthcare professionals, volunteers and patients are featured in the book, which spans seven chapters and over 240 pages.

Mr Gan said: "I hope that the stories in this book will inspire our current and future generations of healthcare professionals to continue working tirelessly to care for our people."

Meanwhile, 187 individuals were recognised with the Ministry of Health (MOH) Long Service Awards for their contribution to boards, councils and committees appointed by MOH. The awards were introduced in 2009 to express appreciation to individuals who volunteer their time and expertise in one or more of the 90 MOH committees.

This year, recipients include Associate Professor Sonny Wang, who chairs the Haze Advisory Panel, for his 15 years of service, and Mr Zulkifli Mohammed, chairman of the Changi General Hospital Medifund Committee, for 10 years of service.

samboh@sph.com.sg