Make the Move 2018 - Singapore


Fraser Clarke

It’s at this time of year that many people start considering (or in many cases start re-considering) the idea of a move abroad.

A new year brings with it new hopes, a fresh start and the opportunity to do something you’ve been hoping to do for a while. So why not make 2018 the year you finally go for that new life overseas?

Over the next six weeks we’ll look at a select group of the countries we work with, and examine why you should make the move in 2018.

During this we’ll recap some of the major news stories from 2017, look at the health issues facing the country, what sort of person would be suited to a move, and what the future could have in store. So read on, and join in the conversation on social media using the #OdyMTM2018.

In the second article in this series we’re going to take a look at Singapore. A unique country, with one of the world’s best regarded healthcare systems.

What Made the News in 2017?

It’s been a very busy year for healthcare in Singapore, as the country continues to strive for perfection across all areas. The year began with a SingHealth survey revealing that almost half the population of the country could be at risk of developing Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease - a figure far higher than the regional average of 30%.

That wasn’t the month’s major news however, with plans introduced aimed at giving public healthcare its most radical shakeup in years. Under the proposals, healthcare groups will be merged into regional clusters - a process that should be complete in just a few months from now.

A statement released at the time said: “With the reorganisation each cluster will bring together the capabilities of their polyclinics and partnering GPs, as well as community service providers to drive primary care transformation, and anchor care in the community as a collective force.

“This reorganisation of the public healthcare clusters will enable us to meet our future healthcare challenges. We are confident that we will be able to better optimise resources and capabilities, to provide more comprehensive and patient-centred care to meet Singaporeans’ evolving needs”.

January ended with surprising research showing that overweight diabetics were at a lower risk than those of a healthy weight of fatty liver disease.

The country’s budget was released in mid-February, with mental health support the biggest beneficiary, whilst in March work started on the all new HealthCity Novena rehabilitation centre - which will bring 500 more beds to the island.

As we reached Spring, SingHealth revealed that a quarter of people who had a medical issue flagged up at a screening session, didn’t return for professional help. A week later the latest telemedical advancements were hailed as a ‘gamechanger’ by the country’s Chief medical informatics officer.

April ended with some further exciting news for the future, as the country’s Health Minister, Gan Kim Yong, promised that the flagship new Woodlands Health Campus will be ‘future-ready’ when it opens in 2022.

May began with the country once again showing itself to be at the pinnacle of modern technology, as plans were outlined to introduce health-pods and robotic nurses into public housing. Later in the month a drive was introduced to get the relatives of Colorectal Cancer patients scanned for the condition, in an attempt to detect it at any early stage.

The month concluded with a WHO report showing that Singapore was home to some of the healthiest people on the planet, with the life expectancy sitting at 83.1 years.

There was a gradual slowdown in major news over summer, with just four big stories making it onto our website between June and September. The country was named as the Far East’s most popular for health tourism, albeit with neighbouring locations such as Malaysia and Vietnam closing in thanks to increasing standards and far lower costs.

In July the National University of Singapore launched a new $18m 3D printing centre, aimed at developing tissue regeneration, implants and drug formulations in the near future. A month later academics at the University’s Medical School highlighted the need for more generalist physicians.

September was headlined by the publishing of a lifestyle survey, that highlighted the fact that some 81% of Singaporeans weren’t getting as much exercise as recommended.

The year ended with a group unveiling a new community-based personalised fitness programme, aimed at helping Stroke survivors rebuild their mobility whilst they recover, before, once again, HSBC named the country as the best for expats in their annual ‘ExpatExplorer’ report.

What are the Biggest Health Issues in the Country?

Respiratory Conditions - Singapore itself is not actually an overly polluted country, despite its intensely developed nature. The main issues arise from neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia, both of whom still perform ‘slash and burn’ agricultural techniques.

This outdated method releases plenty of toxins into the local atmosphere, causing smog, removing the purity of the air and forcing residents to breathe in chemicals which can put them at a much higher risk of conditions such as asthma.

Whilst many of the respiratory conditions experienced by those in Singapore are fairly minor, the country does have a relatively high rate of lung cancer. This can be linked to the slash and burn season, but is more often as a result of smoking tobacco. Unlike in most other countries smoking rates in Singapore have actually risen over the last decade - especially amongst young adults

Thalassaemia -  Thalassaemia is the most common genetically transferred health issue in Singapore, affecting around one in every 20 people.

Having minor thalassaemia will not cause any symptoms and does not require any treatment, however if a male and female are both carriers of the same type of the condition, they have a risk of having a baby with a severe form of it.

More severe forms of the illness can lead to heart and liver problems, as well as hormone issues as a result of excess amounts of iron in the body caused by transfusions. Despite this current treatments of the illness can see those carrying even the most severe form of the condition living into their 60s and beyond

Colorectal Cancer - Whilst lung Cancer looks as if it will be a big killer in the future in Singapore, the current most common type of Cancer is colorectal. Around 1500 people are diagnosed with Cancer of the Colon each year, and only around 10% of these cases are due to genetic defects.

Colorectal Cancer survival rates are around 84% worldwide, and this figure can increase beyond 90% if it is detected at an early stage. Rates in Singapore have remained fairly consistent for a reasonable period of time now, and the country is playing a leading role in Cancer prevention - whilst continuing the quest to find a cure for the illness.

Who is Suited to a Move?

Singapore is a unique country, and as a result it really suits a certain group of individuals. The lifestyle can be hectic and busy, whilst the working environment for medics can be fast-paced and highly competitive.

As a result we think it’s ideal for experienced, driven and highly-motivated younger medics, who are looking to really push themselves to the forefront of medical technology. Of course the country does have plenty of other benefits, the safety, size and range of things to do can appeal to those with a family, whilst the prospect of a unique cultural experience often appeals to those reaching the twilight of their career.

Despite all that however the stimulating workplace is best suited to someone who is career-focused, and who wants to really push themselves - whilst living a comfortable life in one of the world’s truly great, modern cities.

What Does the Future Have In Store?

The Far East looks set to become a major player in the future of healthcare, especially as development in the Gulf begins to slow. Health tourism across the region is already booming, and Singapore is right at the heart of that.

Whilst Malaysia and Vietnam are expected to overtake Singapore in terms of the numbers of health tourists they receive shortly, the island-city state will continue to offer the highest quality of care in the region - if not the world.

Plans are futureproof, investment remains high, and the country’s stable political climate means that it looks set to lead the way in medical advancements for many more years to come.

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