MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
National Cancer Centre, Singapore
Dear SSO Members,
Update: 23 November 2023
Everyone seems to have settled down into post-Covid life, patients and healthcare staff alike. Being C+ does not raise an eyebrow these days, a far cry from when we were in the throes of the global health crisis. As we approach the 3 rd anniversary of the Covid pandemic, we count our blessings that the infrastructural changes (NCID) put in after lessons learned from the SARS crisis, as well as the robustness and resilience of our healthcare system, stood us in good stead to weather through the past 3 years. The experience gave confidence that should another infectious disease outbreak were to happen in the future, we have the wherewithal to grind through it – again.
It has been >1 year since the first inception of the Cancer Drug List. True to its word, MOH has been updating it relentlessly. Insurance companies presented their enhanced policies (riders). Patients have not been complaining too vehemently to their public sector doctors about their insurance coverage. There has not been a massive exodus of patients from the private to the public sector. With the lifting of travel restrictions and Covid-related requirements, foreign patients are back in Singapore in droves, signalling a sanguine outlook for the private healthcare industry, at least from the business perspective.
The nation’s nursing manpower took a hit when many upped and left to return to their families in their home countries after a Covid-induced protracted time apart, and then for jobs elsewhere that beckoned with more attractive terms – this part of the healthcare sector is still in urgent need of replenishment. This is even more keenly felt in the cancer centres, where oncology-trained nurses are very hard to come by. Junior doctors who joined or worked in the clinical service at the height of the Covid pandemic inevitably have an extraordinary perspective on hospital medicine – ‘high pressure job’ took on new meaning. In the UK, ‘high pressure job’ takes on even more meaning, considering the strikes on doctors’ pay – theirs is not merely a work-life balance issue, but an existential one.
The end of the year is round the corner, so again is ESMO Asia, 1-3 December 2023. This is in conjunction with a Pan-Asian Guidelines Adaptation meeting led by SSO. International relations with sister oncology societies was taken up a notch this year. SSO representatives attended the Asian Oncology Society (AOS) annual meeting in October 2023. In March 2023, the Japanese Society of Medical Oncology (JSMO) invited the SSO President to give remarks at its Presidential Dinner, alongside the Presidents of ASCO and ESMO. The graciousness and respect accorded to this invitation was certainly not lost on SSO, the sense of occasion made even greater by the fact that it was the only Asian oncology society the honour was bestowed upon. Here’s to further strengthening the ties with our fellow Asian oncology societies!
All best wishes for 2024!
Singapore Society of Oncology