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Speech by Mr Chan Yeng Kit, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health at the Family Medicine Convocation Ceremony, on Saturday 20 November 2021, 2.00pm

Professor Tan Tze Lee

President, College of Family Physicians Singapore

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

1.     Today, we celebrate the Family Medicine Convocation Ceremony. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s ceremony had to be postponed to this year. Hence, today’s ceremony is for both the 2020 and 2021 batches. Even though COVID-19 has not gone away, it is important for us to adapt and learn to live with the virus. I am delighted to be here with you, even if only virtually, to mark this momentous event, especially for the 2020 batch of graduates who have waited a year for this ceremony.

2.     I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of you in our primary care and community frontline. You have worked tirelessly over the past year battling the pandemic, as you juggle work, exams, and family commitments.

3.     Today, there are 27 graduates from the Fellowship, and 35 from the Collegiate Membership (MCFPS) by Assessment. My heartiest congratulations to each and every one of you.

4.     This is a significant milestone in your career. One that you have invested time and effort in reaching. You have acquired the knowledge and skills to be a Family Physician.

5.     Many of you would know of MOH’s Healthcare 2020 plan that was launched in 2012. And our “Three Beyonds” – Beyond Healthcare to Health; Beyond Hospital to Community; Beyond Quality to Value. Going forward, MOH will be taking a “Population Health” approach to right-site care and emphasize preventive care and health promotion.

6.     Primary Care will be at the forefront of Population Heath, and all of you will be key partners as our healthcare system evolves to tackle the challenges ahead.

7.     I think many of you are familiar with these challenges. First, Singaporeans are living longer. This is of course a good thing, not a bad thing. Singapore has one of the highest life expectancies in the world. Last year, life expectancy at birth for men was 81.5 years, and for women, 86.1 years. Second, our population is getting older. Last year, more than 614,000 Singaporeans were aged 65 and above. That number has grown since. By 2030, it is projected to hit 900,000, an almost 50% increase in less than 10 years.

8.     Considering these statistics, it becomes apparent that the disease burden will grow. Managing this will be a significant part of the many challenges our healthcare system will face in the coming years.

9.     Primary care will play an increasingly greater role in anchoring the care of our patients across all life stages, regardless whether young or old. Over the next few years, Family Physicians will be increasingly involved across various domains, such as disease prevention, rehabilitation, mental health, and patient empowerment – how we can provide patients with information and knowledge, to enable them to be responsible for their own health.

10.     Ongoing professional education, including postgraduate training in Family Medicine, is a huge enabler towards nurturing family doctors with the professional competencies in this broad-based discipline. I would like to thank the CFPS for working with the Family Medicine Training Advisory Committee and the Family Medicine Examination Committee, to align the GDFM curriculum and assessment, including the introduction of clinical postings to the curriculum.

11.     I would like to commend the College for your active involvement in Family Medicine education over the years, and for continuing to proactively shape professional training to meet our care needs.

12.     The College of Family Physicians, Singapore is the voice representing the Family Medicine community. In addition to running three core postgraduate Family Medicine training courses, CFPS has also worked closely with various divisions in MOH. Just over the past year, this has included the focus group discussion on the upcoming implementation of the Healthcare Services Act, the MOH-AIC-CFPS Primary Care seminar on Testing strategies for COVID-19, as well as the MCCY-MOH Conversation on Singapore Women’s development.

13.     One of the College’s aims has been to present and establish the Family Medicine discipline as a specialty on its own. This is commendable and supported by MOH. Family Medicine covers a wide range of treatments and patients, requiring a breadth of knowledge and practice that can be considered equivalent to other specialists’ body of organ-specific knowledge. Family Physicians are an integral part of our healthcare landscape, providing first-contact, comprehensive and continuing care for individuals and their families in the community. As we develop our Population Health Strategy, Family Physicians will play an increasingly important role.

14.     Finally, allow me to congratulate the College on its 50th Anniversary this year. This is a very significant milestone. The College has done magnificent work over the past 50 years.

15.     To commemorate this anniversary, a second edition of Being Human: Stories from Family Medicine has been published, detailing numerous anecdotes by Family Physicians. These bite-sized stories run the gamut of experiences that Family Physicians have been through, and serve as a reminder that, perhaps, the most important skills a Family Physician can have, are those to do with the human connection.

16.     Let me conclude by, once again, expressing my heartiest congratulations to all the graduates. Thank you very much.



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