NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health (SSHSPH) has relocated to its new home at the Tahir Foundation Building, NUS Kent Ridge Campus. Guest-of-Honour Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), graced the momentous occasion, together with Dr Amy Khor, Singapore's Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Manpower, who officially opened the premises on 12 February. Some 300 NUS and National University Health System (NUHS) board members, senior management staff and faculty members attended the event.
In his welcome remarks, SSHSPH Dean Professor Chia Kee Seng said the School has contributed significantly to improving the health of Singapore's communities in several aspects. One is the projection of disease burden that enabled policymakers to understand the magnitude and impact of the country's growing chronic disease burden and helped inform the MOH Healthy Living Master Plan. Another is the School's Total Workplace Safety and Health proposal which is incorporated into the nation's policies. SSHSPH's research on pharmacogenomics also supported the use of genetic testing for preventing adverse drug reactions.
Moving forward, the School intends to work and integrate knowledge "across disciplines to develop solutions that will improve the health of populations in Singapore and beyond, Prof Chia emphasised. Public health specialists in the future too will be trained to apply their learning and mastery of knowledge across various disciplines.
Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, NUS President and Chairman of NUHS Board, noted that the special event marked "a very important milestone for public health in our University, Singapore and our part of the world, as it represented the culmination of a long tradition of seeking improvements through better understanding and well-designed interventions. He believes the School "is now well poised for a new and steep inflection point in its growth and impact.
The occasion also celebrated philanthropy to NUS, and the unstinting support from alumni, benefactors and donors. Prof Tan pointed out in particular Professor Saw Swee Hock'NUS Board Member, alumnus and philanthropist'and prominent businessman Dr Tahir who have contributed generously to the University in the areas of health and medicine.
In her address, NUS alumna Dr Chan fondly recalled her days at the University in the mid-1980s. "I've benefitted a lot from the education I received in those days; and that had helped to shape me, not only in my work in Hong Kong, but beyond. She added: "What served me the best was what I learnt here, in Singapore.
She praised the value system embodied in Singapore's approach to public health. By bringing people from various fields together, the country has managed to leapfrog and avoid mistakes made in other parts of the world, she said.
Following the opening, Dr Chan delivered a talk on "Facing Public Health Challenges in the Post-2015 Era: Need for a New Paradigm as part of the School's Public Health Thought Leadership Dialogue Series. The highly interactive and lively session moderated by Professor John Wong, Chief Executive of NUHS, drew a capacity audience of some 700 staff, students and alumni.