Polyclinics should go green

I recently accompanied my mother to Hougang Polyclinic and was surprised to see that almost all her medication was machine-packed and sealed in boxes, a departure from the resealable polythene bags which can be recycled after the medicine is consumed.

The small, medium-sized and large white boxes have die-cut windows so that users can easily see and recognise the medicine. This feature is redundant as the boxes are clearly labelled.

These boxes use a lot of paper - including wastage from the die-cut process - and adhesive labels.

They are expensive to make and, like most boxes that are thrown away, are environmentally unfriendly.

Another new feature I saw is the need to get yet another machine-issued queue ticket for payment.

Previously, a common ticket received during registration served all areas - from lab work, nursing services, doctor's consultation to the collection of medication and payment.

Although seats are now provided for patients waiting to make payment, the long wait seems unabated.

Polyclinics and hospitals have done away with handwritten appointment cards, which are good for a few visits.

Now, we see printed information on paper for every appointment - some on A4 sheets when a smaller-sized one would do.

Aside from the paper, there is the investment in more costly printers, higher usage of ink and regular maintenance of these machines.

I hope polyclinics and medical institutions will adhere more closely to our national resolve to go green.

And, hopefully, the new features which have been implemented will not trigger another round of increase in fees.

David Lam Yan Choon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 13, 2015, with the headline 'Polyclinics should go green'. Print Edition | Subscribe