On healthcare, F1 and politicians
What’s the challenge for Singapore as a medical hub? Is the F1 a “frivolous” use of taxpayers’ money? What do today’s younger politicians lack?
Outspoken former top civil servant Ngiam Tong Dow served as Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office under Mr Lee Kuan Yew, as well as in various other ministries.
As Chairman, concurrently, of the Economic Development Board, he had, in the 1980s, championed the idea of developing Singapore as an international medical centre to tap the region’s growing middle-class market. In line with that vision, medical school enrolment was increased.
These are edited excerpts of a wide-ranging interview with Dr Toh Han Chong, Editor of SMA News, published in the September issue of the Singapore Medical Association’s newsletter.
If Singapore becomes an international medical centre, it might create more pressure points, especially in the public sector. What are your thoughts?
In my view, the public sector should compete. If Singapore is to become a medical centre, we have to develop our public hospitals, as they are at the forefront of local Medicine.
If you have a very serious, complex illness, you would probably not go to a private practitioner, but engage an established and experienced medical team who sees a high volume of such a disease, who can get to the problem immediately ... We should develop our public hospitals, instead of running them down, so that doctors will want to stay on and not leave once they get higher qualifications.