Singapore sling- healthcare advice for expats in Singapore

There are almost 100,000 expats of all nationalities living and working in Singapore. This Asian hub is often seen as a safe place to experience Asia, with its clean modern facilities, containing aspects of culture from the whole region. Expats planning to relocate to Singapore have very little to worry about with regards to healthcare. Singapore’s healthcare system is of a high quality, so with good health insurance and sensible precautions, residents usually have very little risk of developing serious medical conditions through infection. However, it is likely that if you are living in Singapore, that you will frequently visit the surrounding region, where the risks of infection are far greater.

Although comparatively rare here are some of the current risks and precautions highlighted for visitors and residents in Singapore. Within Singapore, the government takes the risk of Swine Flu very seriously. There are confirmed human cases of Swine Flu, Influenza A (H1N1), in Singapore with confirmed human to human transmission. As of 30 September 2009 there have been 18 deaths, although this represents a tiny fraction of the number of people actually infected and most cases have been relatively mild, as elsewhere in the world. If you are suspected of having Swine Flu you may be instructed by the health authorities to quarantine yourself within your accommodation and not to travel for a set number of days. If you develop flu like symptoms you are advised to visit your nearest 'pandemic preparedness clinic' and if possible wear a surgical mask and avoid public transport on the way there. If you are very ill (e.g. difficulty breathing, chest pain, severe vomiting) call 995 for an ambulance.

Health practitioners advise that everyone should observe good hygiene practices such as regularly washing hands. There is a mild risk within Singapore of developing Dengue Fever. Visitors and residents alike are advised to take normal precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes. There are no vaccinations against this disease, so preventative measures, such as using insect repellents, mosquito nets and wearing appropriate long sleeved clothing are key to avoiding illness. For entry into Singapore a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers (over one year of age) who, within the preceding six days, have been in or have passed through any country where yellow fever is endemic, which in practice is most tropical African and South American countries. During 2008, an increase in cases of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) was reported compared to 2007. The World Health Organisation has advised that there is no cause for alarm and that you should take normal precautions and be vigilant about washing hands. In the 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 4,100 adults aged 15 or over in Singapore were living with HIV; the prevalence rate was estimated at around 0.2% of the adult population.

You should seek medical advice before travelling to Singapore and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the website of the British Foreign Office website, which advises on not only health issues, but also cultural sensitivities - With over 30 years experience of supporting the international business community April International UK is a major provider of health insurance for expats across the world. Commenting on healthcare advice for expats living in Singapore, Debbie Purser, CEO of April International UK said: “Singapore is a clean city with excellent healthcare facilities. Like most places in the world, there are outbreaks of potentially life threatening diseases, but the city’s cleanliness ensures they are kept to an absolute minimum. We would advise our policyholders to be more vigilant when travelling within the region, though and vaccination advice and precautionary measures should be followed. April International UK’s number one priority is to provide the best healthcare available for its policyholders, but by taking sensible precautions, policyholders will of course minimise healthcare problems.”