A pioneering Singapore fertility expert will head efforts to help Chinese women who find it hard to conceive, teaming up with a former nurse from China to set up more medical centres for women in China.
Professor Ng Soon Chye, 66, a member of the team behind Asia's first test-tube baby born in Singapore in 1983, had partnered with Ms Jenny Bi in 2011 to set up Sincere Medical Specialist Centre for Women here.
They set up their first China centre in Xiamen, Fujian province, two years ago, and will open a centre in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, by December.
At Sincere Healthcare Group's fifth anniversary celebrations at Marina Bay Sands last night, the group announced plans to open women's medical centres in eight other second-tier cities across China - Changsha, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Qingdao, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Wuhan and Xi'an.
"With the 10 medical centres for women set up in these cities, we hope to expand into a network of 600 satellite women's clinics in the smaller towns and remote areas all over China within the next five years," the group's chief executive officer Ms Bi, 52, told The Sunday Times.
The group had invested $20 million to set up the medical centre at Novena Specialist Centre and $10 million to start the one in Xiamen.
Prof Ng, the group's medical director, said it has since expanded from one medical centre in Singapore to a network of five medical facilities, including an IVF centre and a specialist centre for men.
From about 600 patients in its first year, its women's medical centre in Singapore expects to see close to 10,000 female patients this year.
"The IVF centre recorded more than 200 successful cases, with some patients from China," he said.
At yesterday's event, the group also revealed plans to expand into Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar, but did not give a timeline.
Ms Bi, who moved here from China in 2008 and became a Singapore citizen two years later, thanked Prof Ng and his team of Singapore doctors for making her plans for China and the region possible.
Prof Ng said in turn that with- out Ms Bi, "I would not be in China to bring hope to many women there who have difficulty having children".
Prof Ng often travels to Xiamen to treat patients who need in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment.
He also trains doctors from China, in Singapore and Xiamen. Only last week, a team of seven medical staff from the Xiamen centre were in Singapore for training.
The group's medical centre in Xiamen sees more than 2,000 patients a month.
Observers say the demand for fertility services in China is expected to go up, with the loosening of China's one-child policy in recent years.
Ms Bi said she long had plans to replicate Singapore's high quality healthcare system in China .
"I discovered that good healthcare is lacking in China, especially in the second-tier cities, from my years as a nurse in my hometown in Nanchang, Jiangxi province in the early 1980s. Ihoped to improve the situation some day, especially for Chinese women."
She said hospitals in Nanchang could be so crowded, and have so few doctors, that a female patient might still be undressed after an examination when the next patient entered the room.
She said: "I could not accept such intrusions into a woman's privacy."
Before moving to Singapore, Ms Bi, who has two daughters, went into medical manufacturing with her husband. She spent eight years in the United States marketing medical equipment, such as diagnostic kits, produced in China.
"When I came to Singapore, and found my partners and medical team to set up the Sincere group, I knew my long-held dream to help provide quality healthcare to women in China would soon come true," she said.