I was invited to attend the opening ceremony of the SingHealth Duke-NUS Scientific Congress last Friday, the prime attraction of which was the launch of the SingHealth Duke-NUS Global Health Institute (SDGHI). There was also a subsequent plenary session in the late morning which I was unfortunately unable to attend. Led by Prof Mike Merson, whose storied and impressive career also involved the setting up of the original Duke Global Health Institute, the SDGHI has ambitious aims to improve health in a large variety of areas in many countries in the region, including Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Thailand.
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister of Foreign Affairs (and as he reminded us jokingly, an ophthalmologist on “long leave”) was the guest of honour at the opening ceremony and he gave a thoughtful (and apparently off-script) speech on the importance of several factors that many healthcare workers might underestimate in the delivery of good health, including engineering and healthcare financing.
As interest in the region rises among healthcare institutes and medical/public health schools in Singapore, it will be good to see if we can all work together in the future to achieve something more than what disparate efforts from individual schools and institutions might be able to accomplish.