Singapore to Set Up Dedicated Center for Public Health to Monitor Risks of Future Pandemics
Singapore plans to set-up a dedicated center for public health in anticipation of risks posed by future pandemics. The announcement came after the March release of the COVID-19 White Paper, which crystallized the government’s reflection on Singapore’s response to the pandemic. The White Paper identified areas of improvement in Singapore’s mask-wearing policy, contact tracing, border control, and outbreak management in migrant worker dormitories. Many of the problems identified in the paper were attributed to the government responding to COVID-19 in the same way it did during the SARS outbreak. This resulted in the misjudgment of the severity of the COVID-19 cases in migrant workers’ dorms.
During the White Paper debate in Parliament, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Lawrence Wong emphasized the need to increase expertise in public health and pandemic management. While the National Center for Infectious Diseases (NCID) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) already possess these capabilities, DPM Wong highlighted the benefit of a dedicated center for public health and shared the pandemic management plans as he pointed to three broad lessons gleaned from the COVID-19 pandemic: fortifying the public health system, enhancing forward-planning capabilities, and strengthening national resilience. The center for public health will bolster Singapore’s pandemic response by creating additional frameworks that will help utilize assets and resources more efficiently. The government also plans to design and construct facilities that can be re-used and re-purposed for future crises. The speech included a tribute to workers, unions, public officers, healthcare workers, and frontliners for their dedication and service. Health Minister Ong Ye Kung is expected to elaborate on the plans for the dedicated center for public health.