We – as in the Society of Infectious Diseases (Singapore), or SIDS for short – have just been awarded a small grant by the SG50 Celebration Fund to carry out our project “Overcoming Infectious Diseases in Singapore: Past, Present and Future“.
Singapore is a young nation at the crossroads of Asia and consistently faces the threat of infectious diseases. Singapore was home to the Eastern Epidemiological Service of the League of Nations Health Bureau, one of two precursors of the World Health Organization. The infectious disease threats have changed with the times – it began with malaria, cholera and plague during the earliest days of the Straits Settlements; to vaccine-preventable diseases such as polio and smallpox; and now modern scourges including HIV, SARS, pandemic influenza, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria that threaten a return to the pre-antibiotic era.
We plan to produce a short documentary, a more detailed accompanying book, and a website documenting the major infectious diseases that have afflicted Singapore in the past and present. Singapore has accomplished much in the arena of infectious diseases, but the lessons from our experiences and the personal stories from those who have worked to control infectious diseases are not well known. The collected stories and records will remind us how far the nation has progressed, how we have contributed to global and regional health and how hard-won is the protection from infectious diseases that we take for granted today. The book, website and documentary will also highlight some of the unsung heroes of the country, and inspire us to continue to work together – just as our predecessors had in the past – against the infectious disease threats of the future.
Besides archival research, interviews will be conducted with the pioneers (or their surviving family) who have substantially contributed to the control of infectious diseases, current experts and lay people to determine what lies ahead in our battle against infectious disease threats. Do feel free to write to us to suggest possible themes or people to be interviewed!