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Welcome to Singapore: The Health Topics New Arrivals Need to Know About

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New to Singapore, mama? It’s important to sort out healthcare like finding a paediatrician or family GP, plus here are the health issues to look out for in the Little Red Dot!

When moving to a new country, it is normal to have mixed feelings. You may feel excited at the thought of all the new experiences you will have, but you may also have concerns about some of the practical issues such as healthcare. This may be a particular concern for those who are living in Asia for the first time, for people who have chronic health problems and for families with young children. We spoke with Dr Neil Forrest, a British-trained GP based at International Medical Clinic (IMC) Camden, to find out more about what new arrivals need to know about family healthcare in Singapore!

The good news is that medical practice in Singapore is of a very high standard. It is generally modelled on the British system, and doctors have standard compulsory university degrees with hospital training. Specialist doctors have often done their further training in the United Kingdom, North America or Australia.

If you’re new to Asia, there are some medical problems which you may not have come across before:

Dengue/Chikungunya/Zika viruses

These viruses are transmitted through the bite of the aedes mosquito, and are widespread across Southeast Asia. The main symptoms are prolonged high fever, headache, body pain and sometimes a rash. Most people make a full recovery but given there are potentially serious complications it is important to consult your GP if you or your children have unexplained fever. We recommend protection as the best course of action to avoid getting bitten by mosquitos; in other words, using mosquito repellent.

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

Again a common condition globally, but outbreaks are seen more frequently in the tropics. Common in nurseries and schools, the main symptoms are fever, sore throat and characteristic spots on the hands and feet (although the rash often spreads to other parts of the body). Again, treatment is seldom needed but children should be kept off school until fully recovered. My advice to parents regarding rashes in children is always: if you’re unsure about a rash, get it checked by your GP! 

haze in the singapore cbd

Seasonal Haze

Haze in Singapore refers to air pollution from forest fires in neighbouring countries and is common in the southwest monsoon season (September-November). For most people this will be nothing more than an annoyance but for certain vulnerable groups (elderly, very young or those with chronic lung/heart problems) there can be an impact on their health. It is important to discuss this with your GP as measures can be taken to reduce the impact.

Influenza

Due to the lack of seasons here, flu is common in Singapore throughout the year. Symptoms consist of fever, cough, sore throat, gastric upset and muscle aches. The condition can be severe in some cases so it’s important to review with your doctor if concerned. There is a flu vaccine which is updated twice a year by the World Health Organisation.

Mycoplasma

This is a common condition worldwide but frequent outbreaks are seen in schools, offices and other communal environments. The most common symptoms are cough, fever and fatigue and the condition is often referred to as ‘walking pneumonia’ as most patients are still able to function normally whist infected. Although the fatigue can be prolonged (up to 6 weeks), most people will make a full recovery without treatment. In a small number of cases the condition is treated with antibiotics. 

Vaccinations

In addition to the routine vaccinations which you require in your home country, there are some additional immunisations which you should have whist living in Southeast Asia. We will work with you to tailor an individual programme based on your age, medical history and travel plans. Dig out any old vaccine records you have and have a chat to your GP.

International Medical Clinic (IMC)
Camden Medical Centre, 1 Orchard Boulevard, #14-06, Singapore 248649, Tel: (+65) 6733 4440
293 Holland Road, #02-04 Jelita Shopping Centre, Singapore 278628, Tel: (+65) 6465 4440
88 East Coast Road, #02-07 Katong Square, Singapore 423371, Tel: (+65) 6465 4440

International Medical Clinic, Paediatrics
Camden Medical Centre, 1 Orchard Boulevard, #11-06, Singapore 248649, Tel: (+65) 6733 4440

www.imc-healthcare.com

Brought to you in partnership with International Medical Clinic. Lead image sourced via Bebe. Family doctors image sourced via MIMS. Haze image sourced via Pinterest (Chris McGrath/Getty Images). Vaccination image sourced via Lloyds Pharmacy Online Doctor.

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