Archive for the 'health and hiv' Category

Friday assaults

I took someone to the Emergency department of Khoo Teck Puat Hospital on Friday, 25 November 2011. We arrived at a little after 1 p.m. and after much waiting for consultation, injections, x-rays and consultation again, we were more or less done by about 5:30 p.m. The doctor advised that the patient should be warded for at least one night for observation.

I do not know if the doctor noticed that her own hospital staff had put up a huge sign in the Emergency department itself, sometime in the morning, before we arrived. Yup, it’s the picture above, with the words “Our wards are full.”

Since the patient was independent enough to wait for a bed himself, I left at about six. At 8:30 p.m. he phoned me, saying the nurse had just told him there was no likelihood of a bed freeing up tonight. They were going to send him to another hospital. He decided to discharge himself instead.

Continue reading ‘Friday assaults’

Moral education likely to end up as immoral indoctrination

In a throwback to the “Nation-building” age — has it ever ended? — the Straits Times headline of Wednesday, 9 November 2011 spoke of new ways to teach students morals/values/ethics, using the three terms interchangeably. Science, maths and English language teachers will be roped in to do the job, announced the Ministry of Education. A new Character and Citizenship Education branch has been set up at the ministry to oversee the effort, adding more catchwords to the already hazy concept.

Like so much spoken and written about morals/values/ethics/character/citizenship, much space was given over to “how we shall do this better”, with next to no debate about what exactly we mean by morals/values/ethics/character/citizenship. People who get on a soapbox about these things tend to assume that everybody else shares the same understanding of the matter. They also tend to assume that most of the time, the “right” morals/values/ethics and character/citizenship behaviour can be prescribed. That being the case, it’s just a matter of mechanics as to how we can get young people to imbibe them. And that was exactly the sense I got from the news report — an entire conference devoted to the mechanics.

Continue reading ‘Moral education likely to end up as immoral indoctrination’

Amy Khor should talk about sex

Minister of State for Health Amy Khor took over as head of the national policy committee for HIV and Aids at the beginning of this month, reported the Straits Times, 25 October 2011. She “succeeds” the late Balaji Sadasivan who died September 2010. That the position remained vacant for over 12 months tells you how much importance the government attaches to HIV and Aids.
Continue reading ‘Amy Khor should talk about sex’

Seeing a tiger when it’s just a cat

One of the few good things the late Balaji Sadasivan implemented when Minister of State for Health, was universal ante-natal screening for HIV, allowing for early intervention. From four cases of mother-to-child transmission in 2004, it was brought down to zero in 2008 and 2009. However, two more cases popped up in 2010.

It is truly tragic for anyone to be born with an infection as serious as HIV.

One of the films at the 24th Singapore International Film Festival touches on this. Living with the Tiger (Thursday, 22 Sept 2011, 9:30 pm, Lido cinema) follows two children at Baan Gerda, a small community in Thailand that cares for about 80 children affected by HIV.

Continue reading ‘Seeing a tiger when it’s just a cat’

Underplanning is in the health ministry’s DNA

The saga of insufficient hospital beds continues. Our public hospitals are so full, they have to hire extra space from other institutions. The alternative would be to turn away emergency patients, again. Here’s a headline from the Straits Times, 30 August 2011:

Continue reading ‘Underplanning is in the health ministry’s DNA’

Smoking out public service priorities

It’s one of the neatest proposals I’ve come across in a long time. In April this year, Professor A J Berrick suggested a progressive ban on tobacco using the turn of the century as the cut-off year-of-birth for the sale of cigarettes.

See a short write up here on Towards Tobacco-free Singapore.

In Singapore, as in many countries, shopkeepers have to check identity cards to ensure that the customer is at least 18 years old before cigarettes can be sold. Some amount of mental calculation has to be performed between the current year and the year of birth as stated in the ID card. Mistakes can happen; more problematically, time is wasted making the mental calculation.

Berrick’s idea was that after 2017, the cut-off year would forever remain 1999. In other words, anyone born in 2000 or later will never be allowed to buy tobacco products. It is a simple cut-off for all shopkeepers to remember.

Continue reading ‘Smoking out public service priorities’

Getting ill and fat from stuffing our eyes with TV

Watching television and shopping are among the things I don’t do much of, so I was rather taken aback when, to fill time, I wandered into Best Denki, an electronics and appliances store. More than half the floor space was devoted to television sets, some of humongous size. It wasn’t so TV-heavy the last time I was here. Wow, TV-watching must be a really big thing in Singapore, I muttered to myself.

Does this explain the rapidly expanding girth of people here?

Continue reading ‘Getting ill and fat from stuffing our eyes with TV’

Hospital bed supply trailing far behind increase in elderly numbers

My father came down with a urinary tract infection last week. At his age, the Emergency Department did not want to risk giving him only outpatient treatment, and decided he should be hospitalised for closer observation. That led to four hours’ waiting for a bed at the National University Hospital.

It so happened that a few days earlier, the Straits Times had a story about the shortage of beds. Again.

The newspaper reported:

Continue reading ‘Hospital bed supply trailing far behind increase in elderly numbers’

Gay equality helps fight HIV, but don’t oversell it

In his one-hour talk on 31 May 2011, Australian Justice Michael Kirby (retired) engaged the audience from the Law Society with three key issues as requested by Society president Michael Hwang: the advantages of a having a permanent Law Reform Commission, when and how to refer to evolving international jurisprudence in deciding domestic cases and the legacy of anti-gay statutes from the days of the British Empire.

Continue reading ‘Gay equality helps fight HIV, but don’t oversell it’

Singapore’s HIV policy neither rational nor compassionate

Which of these two options would a rational person choose?

1. Live normally but die an early death, or

2. Live longer, but starting tomorrow, life becomes a living hell for the rest of your (longer) years.

I would be extremely surprised if anyone can claim to be rational and still pick #2. Yet our Health Ministry, by their impenetrable logic, expects people to choose the second.

Continue reading ‘Singapore’s HIV policy neither rational nor compassionate’