Speech by Minister for Health, Mr Gan Kim Yong, at the Opening Ceremony of the 9th Singapore International Congress of O&G 2013, at Raffles City Convention Centre, on 22 August 2013

Dr Tony Tan, President of OGSS,

Dr Tan Lay Kok, Vice-President of OGSS and Chairman of 9SICOG,

Distinguished Speakers and Chairpersons,

Ladies and gentlemen.

 

Introduction

1.         Good morning. It gives me pleasure to join you today, for the official opening ceremony of the Singapore International Congress of Obstetrics & Gynaecology.

2.         This important Congress has gathered doctors and healthcare professionals globally from more than 22 countries to learn about improving patient care amidst changing times. This is reflected in the theme of this congress “The Changing Panorama of Women’s Health – Navigating New Frontiers”.


Among the Lowest Maternal and Infant Mortality Rate in the World

3.         Our good obstetric and perinatal care has contributed to the decline in neonatal and perinatal mortality rates. The maternal mortality rate (MMR) in Singapore is amongst the lowest in the world, currently at 1.8 women/100,000 live births. Our infant mortality rate of 2/1000 live births is also amongst the lowest in the world. These achievements are a testament to the quality of our dedicated and well trained professionals, sound policies and good medical facilities. This is a commendable feat but we cannot rest on our laurels.

4.         We need to continue to work towards improving maternal and infant care in Singapore, especially within the evolving social and medical trends, such as rising maternal age. For this reason, Ministry of Health supported the expansion of KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital’s neonatal ICU, which will provide increased capacity to care for more babies requiring intensive support and care.

 

Challenges to navigating New Frontiers for the Gynaecology & Obstetrics Profession

5.         The practice of gynaecology has also evolved. In gynaecologic oncology, for example, the care of cancers has become increasingly specialised. In urogynaecology, the development of newer surgical procedures means that long hospitalisations are no longer necessary for treating urinary incontinence and genital prolapse. We need highly specialised professionals to deal with conditions that are potentially life-threatening and complex, but our specialists must remain broad-based and patient centric, rather than disease centric. We are not dealing with parts of the body but the whole person living in a family and in the society.

6.         In the field of fertility medicine, our specialists are no longer only concerned about helping women conceive, but also about minimising the risk of pregnancy complications and premature birth. Conception and birth is about giving life. We have the responsibility of bringing into the world life with its full potential intact at birth. The challenge of modern obstetrics and gynaecology is to deliver good care with a holistic approach to the individual, the family and the society. The focus must always be the welfare of the patient and the family. Our technologies, knowledge and skills are only the means to this end.

 

A New Generation of Gynaecology & Obstetrics Professionals

7.         The introduction of residency-style training for postgraduate medical education focuses on the skills needed to improve health care.

8.         Through the residency training, a structured and tiered training programme was put in place. Close supervision of trainees ensures consistency of training. It is a system based on clear educational objectives that are assessed and audited at each level of training by clinical faculty.

9.         Residency training ensures that each trainee receives all the clinical exposure and experience that would qualify him to be a specialist. There are six core competencies in the Residency training programme that must be imbued in every resident. These are: medical knowledge, patient care, professionalism, interpersonal skills and communication, practice based learning and systems based practice.

10.       We invest in the residency programmes for the future to nurture highly trained obstetricians and gynaecologists. We hope that they will stay in institutional practice to serve not only as top clinicians, but also as educators and researchers.

 

Call for Public Service

11.       This brings us to the constant challenge of ensuring that we have a core team of senior obstetricians and gynaecologists in public service to provide the leadership, deliver excellent patient care, provide medical education and carry out outstanding research. I appreciate the dedication of our many senior obstetricians and gynaecologists who choose to remain in public service and serve as role models with their commitment and professionalism.

12.       But if you do join the private sector as some point, I urge you to remain connected to the institutions. You are a very important resource. Many senior specialists in private practice have accumulated vast experience in clinical practice and are good clinical teachers. Some may also want to be involved in the clinical or laboratory research in our public hospitals. We must explore ways to tap on your collective resource of experience, knowledge and skills.

 

Towards Better Patient Care

13.       I note the good work done by societies such as the Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Singapore. OGSS has been organising biennial regional conferences in obstetrics and gynaecology to bring advances around the world to Singapore and benefit our specialists here.  I was told that this Congress has broken another record for most number of abstracts submitted and for the most number of participants. We thank you for supporting us in coming to this congress. For the patients, I understand that the Society has formalised patient information documents for common procedures in O&G. These will add to a more systematic counselling to help patients make an informed decision about the procedures they are to undergo. Improving patient communication is highly important as we strive to improve patient care and service delivery. These are the primary objectives of everything we do.

14.       On this note, it gives me great pleasure to declare the 9th Singapore International Congress of Obstetrics and Gynaecology open. I wish you all a fruitful day.

Thank you.

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