Coronavirus Singapore

Vaccine expert panel chair a man of varied professional experience

Dr Benjamin Seet oversaw medical support for United Nations staff in 16 post-conflict countries from 2004 to 2006.
Dr Benjamin Seet oversaw medical support for United Nations staff in 16 post-conflict countries from 2004 to 2006.

Among the most stark and disillusioning memories Dr Benjamin Seet, 56, has from his more than three decades of work life is of flying 1,600km across the Congo - and looking down at, not forest, but hundreds of kilometres of deforestation.

Recalled Dr Seet: "It stripped away all images of the Congo that (novelist Joseph) Conrad wrote about in Heart Of Darkness, and drove home the impact man has on his environment."

The two weeks in Congo form part of Dr Seet's varied professional experience. He spent them during one of his stints with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force, which involved deployment or visits to post-conflict countries like Timor-Leste, Lebanon and Sudan. He had been seconded to the world body and held the position of chief medical officer from 2004 to 2006. Based in New York, he oversaw medical support for UN staff in 16 post-conflict countries.

But the bulk of his professional career was spent in the SAF Medical Corp. When he left after 25 years, he was its chief medical officer.

An eye doctor by training, with a master's in public health, Dr Seet then joined the Biomedical Research Council at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star).

After eight years there, he stepped down as its executive director to join the National Healthcare Group on Jan 2 last year - only to spend much of his time from April 13 as chair of the Therapeutics and Vaccines Expert Panel. He was also involved in containing the Covid-19 outbreak in migrant worker dormitories.

Salma Khalik

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2021, with the headline 'Vaccine expert panel chair a man of varied professional experience'. Subscribe