By Goh Ying Xian, Ryan Lim and Drusilla Tan,

Phase II Medicine students

Public Health Service (PHS) was a project initiated in 2004 by the NUS Medical Society, with a small committee of medical students. In its 12th year of service in 2017, PHS has grown and matured over the years. PHS has continuously adapted along with the changing healthcare landscape in Singapore to better serve the public in line with its motto – “Promoting Health, Spreading Awareness”.

 

Since the launch of the Young Health Ambassadors’ Programme (YHAP), PHS has been greatly involved in primary prevention efforts through health education. PHS 2017 greatly expanded the reach of the YHAP, engaging over 2100 secondary school and junior college students from institutions like Singapore Chinese Girls’ School, Choa Chu Kang Secondary School and Hwa Chong Institution. Secondary school students were educated primarily on Diabetes Mellitus and common chronic diseases via assembly talks.

In addition, 41 Junior College students also embarked on a year-long programme as Health Education Ambassadors, where they were mentored by the PHS Committee to design a poster and a game featuring Diabetes Mellitus to present at the exhibition area of the PHS screening event. They also went on a learning journey to the National Kidney Foundation to learn more about chronic kidney disease. PHS hopes to continue expanding into primary prevention in the hope that these young minds will spread health messages to their families and develop good lifestyle habits throughout their lives. In addition, 41 Junior College students also embarked on a year-long programme as Health Education Ambassadors, where they were mentored by the PHS Committee to design a poster and a game featuring Diabetes Mellitus to present at the exhibition area of the PHS screening event. They also went on a learning journey to the National Kidney Foundation to learn more about chronic kidney disease. PHS hopes to continue expanding into primary prevention in the hope that these young minds will spread health messages to their families and develop good lifestyle habits throughout their lives.

The Young Health Ambassadors' Programme (YHAP) assembly talk at Singapore Chinese Girls' School

Last year, PHS held its free annual flagship screening event over the weekend of 21 and 22 October, serving over 1100 participants in Jurong East. Modalities offered during the event included screening and education for common chronic diseases (diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension) and cancers (colorectal, cervical, breast), geriatrics screening (cognitive, vision, fall risk), oral health screening and doctor consultations. Singaporeans and Permanent Residents aged 40 and above were eligible for the screening, while the exhibition was open to the general public.

 

Several new initiatives were rolled out last year, such as a new electronic application and database with a team from NUS Institute of Systems Science. This helped to facilitate more efficient screening flow and easier access to information across the different modalities. PHS organisers also ensured complete wheelchair access throughout the screening site, making the event more accessible for participants with mobility problems. They also engaged volunteers from SIGNapse, a sign language interest group, to facilitate communication with participants who were hearing impaired. On-site publicity and education was also carried out as Meddy and Neddy – bear mascots of NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and NUS Nursing – went around Jurong East with volunteers to spread the message of health awareness. The event was graced by Associate Professor Benjamin Ong, Director of Medical Services, Ministry of Health.

 

Being a cross-faculty student-led project, PHS 2017 involved over 650 student volunteers from different healthcare courses (NUS Medicine, NUS Nursing, NUS Pharmacy, NUS Dentistry, NUS Social Work; NTU Medicine; and Duke-NUS Medicine), as well as more than 250 external volunteers from various partnering organisations. Over the years, PHS has continuously provided a platform to foster inter-healthcare interaction as students across different faculties and different batches come together in this large-scale event to serve the community together.

 

A week prior to the 2017 health screening event, PHS representatives went door-to-door to spread the message of health awareness and the event. They reached an unprecedented number of over 24,500 households across Yuhua, Bukit Batok East and Jurong Central. Residents were informed about the screening event, and educated on prevalent health conditions such as Diabetes Mellitus via illustrated cards.

Dental care at PHS 2017

 

Concurrently, screening participants were updated with their health screening results through the Telehealth Initiative. As PHS works to link up participants with their primary care providers for further professional care if necessary, volunteers will be calling relevant participants over the course of the next few months after the screening event to check up on participants and ensure that they have access to, and have been attending necessary follow-ups. Eligible participants with abnormal screening results are provided with a free GP consultation at a clinic of their choice.

 

Looking ahead, PHS hopes to continually optimise its health screening while making its health education and follow-up programmes more robust. The service strives to cater to the different needs of the general public and make a sustainable impact on all parties involved – whether it be the participants, volunteers or external partners. Together, PHS looks forward to making Singapore a healthier nation, one community at a time.