Seen and heard this week


Seen and heard this week is a weekly column highlighting thought leadership from the NUS community


Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang from NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health (SSHSPH) was featured in The Straits Times on 2 October as a member of the team that conducted a comprehensive study involving 5,415 patients from July 2015 to February 2016. The study found that patients warded in hospitals face a high risk of contracting an infection during their stay and that many of these infections are caused by bacteria resistant to conventional antibiotics, requiring the use of more toxic and less effective antibiotics to treat them. A common entry point for bugs is through catheters which allow the bugs to bypass a human body’s usual protections. Assoc Prof Hsu, Head, Infectious Diseases Programme at SSHSPH, added that the study showed that more than half of the patients in acute hospitals were being treated with at least one antimicrobial, a drug term which includes antibiotics, and that this figure was astoundingly high.

Dr Duvvuri Subbarao, Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow and Dr Rahul Nath Choudhury, Visiting Research Fellow, both from the Institute of South Asian Studies at NUS, shared their views in The Straits Times on 5 October about Aadhaar, the Indian government’s ambitious scheme of providing each Indian citizen with a unique biometric identity number. In September, the Indian Supreme Court had upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar, the largest and possibly the most sophisticated digital identity scheme ever attempted. Thus far, the scheme has proven to be beneficial in blocking corruption and stemming leakages from government aid transfers. It has also empowered the poor to open bank accounts and be acknowledged in government schools and hospitals. Things are not all smooth-sailing though, as citizens’ Aadhaar details have been divulged on as many as 210 government websites and opponents decry a violation of privacy. The authors said that the government would thus need to navigate the huge grey area between the good and the bad.

In a commentary for The Straits Times on 7 October, Dr Emir Hrnjic, Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Asset Management & Research Investments at NUS Business and Adjunct Associate Professor Nikodem Tomczak from NUS Chemistry opined that one could prepare for possible disruptions in the labour market caused by such technologies as blockchain by obtaining a firm foundation in areas including cryptography, computer science, economics and finance. The authors also touched on organisations which could possibly fill the knowledge gap in blockchain skills, such as the Institute of Banking and Finance, the Monetary Authority of Singapore as well as NUS which includes blockchain as an integral educational component in its Executive Master of Science in Investments and Risk Portfolio Management. They suggested that combining self-learning with formal university courses is ideal as the fast-paced nature of blockchain makes traditional learning resources such as books become rapidly outdated.

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