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Economic research done in Singapore

Children, The Family and Health: What it Takes to Give Children Long Life
The Singapore Workshop: Child Health in Singapore: Past, Present, and Future
Healthy children will most likely become healthy adults who will contribute to a strong and economically viable nation. In Singapore, it is felt that children are the most important national resource. The child care she focused on is pre-natal through adolescence.

Children in Singapore enjoy a high standard of health today. About 2.8% or 4,039 billion dollars was spent on health care in 1997. The Ministry of Health is responsible for high quality, up to date, readily accessible and cost effective health care.
The mortality rate of children under five years old is considered by many to be the single most important indicator of the state of a nation's children. In 1995, in UNICEF's State of the Children Report, Singapore ranked third with Japan and Hong Kong, behind Sweden and Finland. This rating is a gauge of the nutritional health, level of immunizations, income and food availability of the family. It is also a reflection of the availability of maternal and child health services.

In an overview of child health history in Singapore, Doctor observed that there was poor record keeping. Generally child health care was negligible with plague, TB, small pox and infectious diseases the major causes of mortality. After 1946 the focus shifted to combat malnutrition, meningitis, tetanus and polio. Malaria was endemic. The mortality rate in the pediatric wards from diarrhea was 50%. The period 1962 - 1976 saw the start of compulsory vaccination against diphtheria and polio. Family Planning was introduced in 1966 to reduce the high birth rate. Compulsory smallpox vaccination in 1964 and free immunsations for other childhood diseases improved children's health greatly. Proactive programs in neonatal and pediatric health, nurses and physicians training upgraded resulted in Singapore rating a 6th best rating in infant martality by 1976. This was a major overhaul of the system and vast improvement over 30 years.

The significant advances of Child Care from 1976 to the present include good obstetric practice with ultrasound, amniocentesis used to decrease congenital abnormalities. Genetic counseling and early identification of genetic disorders has advanced. Neonatal care continues to improve. In 1986, the Hepatitus b vaccine for newborns was introduced. Surgery can now correct many cases of congenital heart disease, and cancers have better cure rates.

Singapore citizens enjoy easy access to health care. Government clinics and private practitioners are located all over the island, especially in the new towns where the population density is high. Dental services are also readily accessible. Good quality pharmaceutical products are available in clinics.

The financial policy of the health care delivery system is based on individual responsibility coupled with government subsidies to keep basic health care affordable. The cost for children's clinic visits is half that charged for adults. Immunisations are free. Financial assistance is available for needy children at clinics and hospitals. Dental treatment in schools is free of charge.

The holistic concept of health in Singapore includes physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual health. In the future we hope to address more than the child's physical health.

Future challenges include improved methods for screening for congenital abnormalities, prevention of accidents and home injuries, stress reduction at school and home, childhood HIV infections, and in the area of adolescent health issues like eating disorders, teen pregnancies, suicides and substance abuse.

Health care services play only a small part in the total development of a child. A study done in South America shows that children develop best physically and mentally if given a loving, stimulating environment, improved diet and good health care. This is part of what we are all striving for in our future.


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