A Message Of Health For A Year Of Crisis

Hui Yee Ng Stories

Besides promoting and advancing the application of Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) through academic research, the Singapore Chung Hwa Medical Institution also aims to provide subsidised TCM treatment for the sick in Singapore, regardless of race and religion.

Its partnership with CDAC helps to advance its cause since 2015, the organisation’s TCM specialists have conducted 51 TCM talks at CDAC Centres, Vibrance @ Yishun and CDAC roadshows, benefitting about 1,570 participants in total.

“During consultations, our physicians often don’t have enough time to share more information with patients,” says Peh Wei Liang William, the Assistant Chief Operating Officer, Principal Medical Officer and Resident Physician at Chung Hwa. “Such talks give us a platform where the public can learn more about different topics, and they can in turn share more of their experiences with us.”

In 2020, as Singapore started to observe safe management measures due to Covid-19, these talks were moved online. Without the physical constraints of room capacity, the attendance for these sessions actually increased.For the six talks organised for CDAC in 2020, the average attendance was about 45 participants, compared to about 25 in previous years.

Besides the convenience of logging on compared to travelling to a physical venue, perhaps more people were naturally more interested in learning about useful health information during a pandemic. Chung Hwa did introduce topics that were on everybody’s minds during 2020, such as how to prevent colds. Even a topic such as insomnia could appeal to anxious Singaporeans who were losing sleep during this eventful year.

But its talks for CDAC also covered issues such as blood sugar, dementia and menopause, reflecting the organisation’s desire to inform a broad segment of the public about common health issues.

In the process, the physicians learnt a lot about how to better connect with their audience. When first faced with the challenge of using online platforms, Chung Hwa decided to embrace the new experience, and its physicians were soon using these platforms not just for public talks, but also patient consultations and internal meetings.

They found that more elderly who attended their online talks were similarly quick to master this new medium. “Actually seniors are very good at using these platforms,” notes Koh Boon Khai, Chief Operating Officer “Nowadays, many of them have smartphones, and their children can help them if they encounter any difficulties.”

Even after life goes back to normal, Chung Hwa believes that online events can continue to help both organisations reach out to more people. “Maybe we can organise larger events together with a few CDAC centres, to benefit more residents,” says William. “We hope that that we can work with community partners to also connect with youths, English-speaking communities, and non-Chinese communities.”