On 26 February 2017, Singapore and China signed five pacts to cooperate on improving the infrastructure and services in Tianjin Eco-city (TEC). These agreements cover areas like water resources management, digital media, healthcare, research and development and the implementation of a "smart city" masterplan.

Pertaining to healthcare, the MOU that was signed between the two countries last month was not the first – it was one of the recent signatories in a longstanding collaboration in areas of healthcare. Here we will look into some of these fruitful collaborations, focusing in particular on the MOUs signed between the Singapore and China and the programmes that the MOUs entail.

1. 1999: Bilateral coordination, liaison and cooperation in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

In 1999, Singapore and China signed an MOU in Beijing to formalise bilateral coordination, liaison and cooperation in TCM. This MOU would see China sharing its expertise on developing and regulating TCM while Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) would share its information on TCM regulations and research and development. The Ministry would also work on training China’s personnel in areas of health management.

To formulate this collaboration, a Sino-Singapore Committee on TCM Cooperation was established and that they would meet annually. The MOU was in-line with the move in Singapore to bolster the field of acupuncture: MOH was planning to start the process of acupuncturist registration by mid-2000 (The registration of acupuncturist would later begin in 2001). Additionally, it also sought to develop a system of appraisal and examination of acupuncturists and implement an Acupuncture Upgrading Training Course (AUTC).

2. 2016: Collaboration between West China Hospital, SingHealth and Temasek Foundation - Training for nursing professionals at West China Hospital

In 2016, SingHealth, the largest group of healthcare institution in Singapore, signed an MOU with West China Hospital. The MOU comprised of a three-year training programme for the nursing professionals at the West China hospital. This programme is supported by Temasek Foundation with a grant of S$546,000.

It commenced in June 2016, with SingHealth Alice Lee Institute of Advanced Nursing’s nurses and educators heading to Sichuan to train about 600 nursing leaders and nurses there. The training encompasses areas like neurology, emergency medicine, cardiology, obstetrics and gynecology. Topics such as healthcare management, patient safety, infection control and medication management would also be covered.

During the course of training, 60 participants (specifically 32 nursing leaders and 28 clinic nurses) would be selected for training as specialist master trainers. These participants would receive an additional two-week of training and clinical attachment at SingHealth healthcare institutions. The transfer of knowledge formed the objective and outcome of the training as these participants would return to China to train about 880 more nurses there.

3. 2017: Sharing of best practices on patient care and healthcare delivery systems

Tianjin Eco-City was previously a site of barren land, wastewater pond and saltpans. It has since broke ground in 2008 to become a free township comprising of more than 70,000 residents.

With the signing of a MOU on 26 February, Singapore and China would work together to develop the city into an environmentally friendly and resource-efficient one. The port city would also serve as a model of sustainable development for other Chinese cities.

Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong, who witness the signing of the MOUs, said that the agreement allowed “Singapore agencies such as PUB, SingHealth and the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (to) share their expertise with Chinese officials (and) improve the eco-city’s infrastructure and services”.

Pertaining to the area of healthcare, Associate Professor of Chua Yeow Leng of SingHealth and group director of International Collaboration Office, said that the MOU would help improve the training and development of healthcare professionals. Specifically, SingHealth would work closely with TEC to provide a range of training programmes, symposiums and seminars, which would be held in both Tianjin and Singapore over the course of the next three to five years.

AP Chua added that "The professional exchange will enable healthcare professionals from Tianjin and Singapore to learn from one another and share best practices aimed at improving patient care and the healthcare delivery systems. More importantly, it will enhance both countries' capabilities to train strong pipelines of healthcare professionals to meet current and future needs.” MIMS

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http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/speeches/view-html?filename=1999072203.htm https://www.moh.gov.sg/content/moh_web/healthprofessionalsportal/tcmpractitioners.html