When moving to a new country, it is normal to have a mixture of 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.
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 often have their further training in the United Kingdom, North America or Australia.
There are some medical problems which you may not have come across before:
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 is the best cause of action and avoid getting bitten by mosquitos by using mosquito repellent.
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.
Hand Foot and Mouth Disease
Again a common condition globally but outbreaks are seen more frequently in the tropics and this year there has been a marked increase in cases in Singapore. 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 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.
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 and IMC always receives a batch.
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.
Dr Neil Forrest graduated from the University of Leeds, UK. He has worked as a Family Physician in London and the South East of the UK before relocating to Singapore with his family in 2015. Dr Forrest is based in our Camden clinic, if you would like an appointment with him, please call: +65 6733 4440 or book online: https://www.imc-healthcare.com/appointments/