Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Singapore - Local health sciences university will benefit S’pore
I applaud Professor Soo Khee Chee’s “grand vision” of expanding the role of Duke-NUS Medical School to a biomedical or health sciences university (“S’pore needs a health sciences university to fill current void: Professor”; Sept 24).
The proposal is timely, as Singapore has three medical schools that provide postgraduate training, but only one local university for nurses to pursue postgraduate studies, and none for physiotherapists, occupational therapists and radiographers.
Malaysia, with a population 5.7 times that of Singapore, provides as many as 45 institutions offering postgraduate health and medicine courses locally. As Prof Soo asked: “Can we really entrust the future of our healthcare training to other countries?”
The demand for health sciences professionals is rising. By 2020, Singapore needs 20,000 more healthcare professionals in the long-term-care sector. By 2035, the global health workforce will be short of 12.9 million workers.
Our future demand for health sciences professionals will require more than an expanded role for the Duke-NUS SingHealth partnership.
If the school is to consider converting into a health sciences university, it should expand its partnership to all six public health-care clusters, the private sector and service providers in the long-term-care sector, including the Agency for Integrated Care, to better meet our national initiatives for better health, better care and a better life.
As about half of Singapore’s 2,500 allied health professionals are between the ages of 20 and 29, access to more local postgraduate opportunities may keep them here.
With Singapore’s infrastructure and emphasis on innovation, we are well-positioned to research how embracing technology can provide better outcomes by disrupting traditional healthcare approaches, and how novel health promotion strategies can shift the mindset of individuals into taking responsibility for their physical and mental well-being, and prevent or delay the onset of non-communicable diseases.
Bala S. Rajaratnam