The 13th edition of Singapore’s Public Health & Occupational Medicine Conference (or PHOM as it is called) was held at the One Farrer Hotel on 4th and 5th of October. I had attended a few of the earlier editions, and the number of attendees has increased with each year. The public health community in Singapore has grown with time.
Unfortunately, my schedule did not permit me to attend much of the event, which had a number of interesting sessions linked to the overall theme of “sustainable health for all”.
Mr Ng Chee Khern, permanent secretary under the Prime Minister’s Office, and chairman of the Government Technology Agency (GovTech), delivered a plenary lecture that was at times personal and at times unusual, but it resonated well with the audience. The contrast between the military (he was formerly major-general at the air force) and the rest of the civil service – in particular the ministry of health and GovTech – tickled many in the audience.
A/Prof Alex Cook, well known statistician and vice-dean of research at the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, spoke on his team’s work on hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) in Singapore, specifically on the impact of school closure on preventing the spread of HFMD, and the socioeconomic impact of such measures. The majority of the crowd appeared to support not closing schools as a control measure for HFMD following his talk.