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Make fertility health checks more convenient for earlier detection, treatment

In a recent media interview, Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, said that the Government was studying how to encourage Singaporeans to go for earlier fertility health checks, particularly for newly married couples, as part of a holistic framework to boost Singapore’s dismal fertility rate.

Make fertility health checks more convenient for earlier detection, treatment
Alexis Heng Boon Chin

In a recent media interview, Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, said that the Government was studying how to encourage Singaporeans to go for earlier fertility health checks, particularly for newly married couples, as part of a holistic framework to boost Singapore’s dismal fertility rate.

Although increased public education and government subsidies would certainly help encourage earlier and more widespread uptake of fertility health screening, one aspect that has largely been overlooked is the convenience and time needed for the screening process.

Subsidised fertility health screening will have to be done in public hospitals with specialised facilities for such screening, such as at gynaecological clinics. 

The present procedure for obtaining appointments at specialist departments of public hospitals as a subsidised patient requires making an appointment at a polyclinic for an initial assessment of symptoms by a general practitioner, who will then refer the patient to a specialist doctor at a public hospital. 

Yet, in the case of fertility health screening, the initial polyclinic appointment is redundant and a waste of time and resources, because there are usually no symptoms to be assessed before referral to a public hospital.

Instead, the Ministry of Health should allow subsidised patients to make direct online bookings for fertility health checks at public hospitals.

This will make the screening process more convenient and less time-consuming, which would in turn encourage earlier and more widespread uptake by married couples.

Another suggestion to enable greater accessibility and more convenience would be to develop basic fertility health screening amenities at polyclinics, rather than restricting such functions only to specialist clinics at public hospitals.

It may be advantageous to have a two-tier system where basic fertility health screening is carried out at the polyclinics and, if problems are found, patients can be referred for more advanced and rigorous screening at specialist units in public hospitals.

An added advantage of such a system is to enable better training of junior doctors posted to polyclinics, many of whom are fresh or recent graduates of medical school.

Some of these junior doctors may aspire to undergo further specialist training to qualify as obstetricians and gynaecologists.

Training such junior doctors at polyclinics to carry out basic fertility health screening would be an excellent way to hone their skills before letting them embark on specialist training.

Have views on this issue or a news topic you care about? Send your letter to voices [at] mediacorp.com.sg with your full name, address and phone number.

Related topics

health sexual health fertility hospital doctor family planning

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