HSA receives Pro-Enterprise award for expediting entry of Covid-19 vaccines and test kits

HSA had helped to facilitate the supply of essential medicines like Covid-19 vaccines. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) not only adapted regulations swiftly to allow Singapore prompt access to essential products like test kits and vaccines during the Covid-19 pandemic, but also swiftly licensed 26 local mask-manufacturing facilities to ensure supply for the local population and other countries.

For its efforts, HSA received the gold Pro-Enterprise Initiative Award on Wednesday (Nov 17) at the Pro-Enterprise Panel-Singapore Business Federation Awards ceremony held at the Lifelong Learning Institute at Eunos Road 8.

The Initiative award is given to teams or individuals in government agencies that initiate pro-enterprise changes which help businesses improve service delivery and reduce compliance costs.

HSA was one of the 21 awardees recognised for their contributions towards strengthening Singapore's pro-enterprise environment at the ceremony. The winners consisted of individuals, businesses, trade associations and chambers and public sector agencies.

"Regulators play an important role in driving change by keeping track of emerging trends and facilitating and supporting businesses who want to launch new and innovative products, or just to improve their business processes," said guest-of-honour, Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong, who spoke at the ceremony.

Held in a hybrid format, the ceremony also marks the 21st anniversary of the Pro-Enterprise Panel (PEP), a private-public panel which aims to provide solutions to the regulatory issues that businesses face.

Besides helping to enable quick entry and local development of Covid-19 medical devices, HSA also helped to facilitate the supply of essential medicines like Covid-19 vaccines.

Said Dr Mimi Choong, chief executive officer of HSA: "I am immensely proud of my officers' commitment, dedication and professionalism in developing innovative regulatory initiatives and working closely with our industry stakeholders to secure timely access to critical medicines, vaccines and medical devices for our population during the pandemic."

The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) was one of two recipients of the Pro-Enterprise Disruptor Award, which recognises government agencies that have identified emerging industries with growth potential and implemented initiatives to promote their growth.

The SFA was recognised for its regulatory framework for novel foods, which facilitates innovation by researchers and food producers while ensuring the products are safe. This framework led to Singapore being the first country in the world to approve cultured meat last year.

"SFA introduced the Novel Food Virtual Clinic where novel food companies are able to proactively engage SFA at early stages of their research. This will provide them with a clearer understanding of SFA's requirements at an early stage, such as submission of information to substantiate the safety of the novel food," said an SFA spokesman.

By doing so, companies can then prioritise resources towards productive research directions and minimise compliance costs and time, added SFA.

Four private sector partners - including Action Community for Entrepreneurship and NUS Enterprise - were given the Pro-Enterprise Partner award for working closely with the Pro-Enterprise Panel to shape business-friendly rules and regulations in Singapore.

Mr Gan said: "Regulations and processes are put in place to protect us, to ensure high standards of safety and quality. By working together, we can ensure that these regulations are not roadblocks, but checkpoints that we use to ensure that products meet our high standards before we introduce them to our Singapore market and beyond."

Correction note: An earlier version of the article gave the wrong name for the Singapore Food Agency. We are sorry for the error.

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