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”.

The conference opening was very well attended with delegates from both public and private sectors, as well as the Ministry of Health. Dr Gan Wee Hoe, the organising chairman, gave the welcome speech.
The guest of honour was Mr Edwin Tong, senior minister of state for health and law. He received his invitation prior to assuming his role at the Ministry of Health.

Dr Shanta Emmanuel was awarded the College of Public Health and Occupational Physician’s Lifetime Award. She had done much to transform primary care in Singapore.

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.

The plenary lecture was delivered by Mr Ng Chee Khern, permanent secretary under the Prime Minister’s Office, and chairman of the Government Technology Agency (GovTech).
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Dr Philippe Guibert, regional medical director of Health Consulting Asia International SOS, speaking on how the private sector prepares and responds to infectious diseases outbreaks.

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.

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A/Prof Alex Cook delivering his lecture at PHOM 2018.
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