• Vol. 34 No. 6, 126C–129C
  • 15 July 2005

Paediatrics in Singapore: The Early Days



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Paediatric services in Singapore started at the end of the 19th century. Because of inadequate housing, poor sanitation and inadequate health services, malnutrition and infections were the main problems. Infant mortality was in excess of 300/1000. There were many prominent doctors who worked in extremely demanding environments in order to better the health of children at that time. Over the years, there has been a steady improvement of healthcare in Singapore and this has been mainly due to the foresight and hard work of the pioneers. With excellent primary healthcare and specialised paediatric centres, paediatric services in Singapore are among the best in the world.

Singapore used to be a colony of the British Empire. The main reason for having a colonial government trade was the exploitation of raw materials and cheap labour. The medical services provided by the colonial government were mainly for the British in the colony while those provided for the indigenous people were rudimentary. There were no comprehensive health services as we have today. Before the Second World War, few Asian doctors were appointed to any senior position in government services. It was after the Japanese Occupation that local doctors were gradually appointed to senior positions. However, European doctors still enjoyed special “expatriate allowances”.

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