Singapore: Not Just a Small Country in the Far East
I was invited to visit Singapore as an external examiner for the Diploma in Biomedical Science program offered by the School of Chemical and Life Sciences of Singapore Polytechnic. I visited with faculty, staff, and administrators of the school. I also met with students (see photo)
and graduates of the program. They were excited about their chosen profession.
Singapore offers Asia’s best healthcare system and its standard of medical practice ranks among the best in the world. The Joint Commission International (JCI) has accredited ten hospitals and three medical centers in Singapore and the College of American Pathologists (CAP) has more than ten accredited laboratories. Singapore’s world-class healthcare facilities drew more than 400,000 foreign patients in 2006.
This demand is likely to grow, given better health awareness, longer lifespan and improving economic circumstances across the region. Singapore’s target is to grow the number of foreign patients to 1 million by the year 2012.
Significantly, Singapore is developing platforms such as ‘Hospital-of-the-Future’ and ‘Homecare-of-the-Future’ for healthcare service providers. These platforms allow healthcare players to develop and test new products and business models with companies from other industries such as IT systems, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, nutrition and consumer lifestyle. Furthermore, Singapore has also established a strong foundation in basic biomedical sciences research and translational clinical research.
From this positive outlook on healthcare and biomedical sciences sector, one can infer that there will be a continual demand for biomedical science graduates. Since the inception of the biomedical science initiative by the government, the program and the profession have seen increased interest and popularity, as evident by the good yearly enrollment numbers and quality of applicants.
This growth does not come without challenges. During my visit, I attended the 51st graduation ceremony for graduates from the program and I met with Dr. Eddie Ang, President of the Singapore Association for Medical Laboratory Sciences. He is one of the most important laboratory leaders in the country. Despite huge steps and achievements, he still sees the road ahead full of difficulties and uphill battles, some of which are enforcing certification and licensure. Sound familiar?
Interesting facts about Singapore:
- It is one of the cleanest cities in the world.
- It is a green city - greenery all over the city. Appropriately, it is also called a "garden city."
- Its airport and airline have been voted as the best in the world for the last 10 years.
- Its housing policy could be the best in the world as about 95 percent of citizens have their own home.
- It became a first-world country from a third-world country in one single generation. It was one of the poor countries in 1965 when it was separated from Malaysia. In 35 years, it is one of the wealthiest countries of the world.
- Its public transport system is one of the best in the world which comprises of buses, trains and taxis. Buses and trains are almost always 100 percent on time and are very frequent in service.