Academic journal article Austrian Journal of South - East Asian Studies

Combating SARS and H1N1: Insights and Lessons from Singapore's Public Health Control Measures

Academic journal article Austrian Journal of South - East Asian Studies

Combating SARS and H1N1: Insights and Lessons from Singapore's Public Health Control Measures

Article excerpt

Combating the outbreak of infectious diseases is a major public health imperative for the small island-state of Singapore. In this paper we discuss and assess the public health measures taken by the Singaporean government to combat the outbreak of SARS in 2003 and H1N1 in 2009. Most notably, the state introduced a clear line of command and control to monitor the effectiveness and efficacy of public health control measures as well as to oversee their implementation. Meanwhile, it has also employed moral suasion to ensure compliance with draconian health control measures by the population. At the same time, the Singapore government also established a close partnership with the population to ensure the acquiescence of the general public to these measures. Finally, this paper draws on the insights and lessons learned from the two outbreaks to develop a conceptual model for pandemic management.

Keywords: SARS; H1N1; Public Health Control Measures; Infectious Disease; Singapore

Die Bekämpfung des Ausbruchs ansteckender Krankheiten ist ein zentrales Gesundheitsgebot für den Inselstaat Singapur. Im vorliegenden Artikel erörtern und bewerten wir die Maßnahmen, welche die Regierung Singapurs im Bereich der öffentlichen Gesundheitsversorgung traf, um den Ausbruch von SARS im Jahr 2003 und von H1N1 im Jahr 2009 zu bekämpfen. Besonders bemerkenswert ist in diesem Zusammenhang die Einführung einer klaren Weisungs-und Kontrollstrategie, um die Wirksamkeit und Wirkungen der Maßnahmen zu überprüfen sowie ihre Implementierung beaufsichtigen zu können. Zudem wurden moralische Appelle angewendet, um die Einhaltung von drakonischen Maßnahmen zur Gesundheitskontrolle durch die Bevölkerung zu gewährleisten. Gleichzeitig etablierte die singapurische Regierung eine enge Partnerschaftmit der Bevölkerung, die das Einverständnis der Öffentlichkeit zu diesen Maßnahmen sicherstellte. Zum Schluss wird im vorliegenden Aufsatz ein konzeptionelles Modell, das auf Einsichten und Lehren aus den beiden Ausbrüchen beruft, ausgearbeitet.

Schlagworte: SARS; H1N1; Maßnahmen zur öffentlichen Gesundheitskontrolle; Infektionen; Singapur

Introduction

Situated in South-East Asia, Singapore is fortunate enough to be spared from major natural disasters such as typhoons, earthquakes, and tsunamis. However, as the small city-state is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, Singapore is especially prone to transnational health threats such as pandemics. Indeed, during the last decade, Singapore has been struck by two major pandemics. In 2003, Singapore experienced the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) (Cutter, 2008; Goh et al., 2006; James, Shindo, Cutter, Ma, & Chew, 2006; Pereira, 2008; Tan, 2003). Then, in 2009, the state had to take additional measures against the novel influenza A (H1N1), which put major parts of its population at risk (Cutter et al., 2010; Ministry of Health, 2009; Tay, Cutter, & James, 2010).

Even though the two major outbreaks were eventually contained through an array of public health control measures instituted by the Ministry of Health (MoH) of Singapore, SARS and H1N1 brought about severe public health and economic consequences for the country as a whole (Leo, 2011). As it turned out, the population's receptiveness to draconian measures was enhanced to a large extent through moral suasion and close partnership between the government and people. Indeed, the efficacy of these public health control measures was profoundly related to these two crucial elements. Meanwhile, it is important to note that these public health control measures were swiftly adjusted to meet contingencies that arose - for example when additional epidemiological cases were uncovered and when a better understanding of the viruses was developed. This happened through the introduction of a clear line of command and control. In terms of capacity building in the design and implementation of health control policies, the insights drawn from these two episodes of disease outbreak are invaluable both from a practical as well as a research perspective. …

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