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New Hopes for the New Year


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It's expected that things slow down towards the year end - yes, even in the healthcare industry! People take off for the holidays and there are less elective surgeries and procedures (though I can't say the same for the emergency department visit rates :p). A rotation into a new department saw me having lunch with a fellow MO, X, from Myanmar. As we talked casually, the conversation drifted to his home country. I don't travel very much, and know even less about Myanmar as a country - though I must say that the recent elections and The Lady's victory have propelled Myanmar into the spotlight once again.
X grew up during the era of the ruling military junta, where racial tensions were high. Strictly enforced curfews meant that it was ‘lights off’ by 6 in the evening. Security was an issue and there was nothing much the police could do. Healthcare back then was in its developing stages. Getting a CT scan meant you had to make sure you got to the correct hospital, basic blood test results took more than a day to process. If a machine broke down, it might take months for it to be fixed and if you needed to see a specialist not available in your local hospital, patients had to travel overseas for treatment. Of course, times have improved, and the country looks poised to make further progress and developments in the near future.

X was full of praise for our little island country. He marvelled at how we've progressed to a modern society of shiny skyscrapers and built-up landscape in 50 years; the level of social security and safety; healthcare progression, where everything is (almost) electronic and critical scans and interventions such as PCI that can be done in the same day. He was equally effusive in his praise of our late MM Mr Lee KY, on his undisputed achievements and impact on Singapore and the global arena.
I was amused at his delighted discovery of all things "new" in Singapore (must have been the jaded cynic in me talking). Now that I’m sitting in front of the computer in a more reflective mood, it’s hard to deny the progress our little red dot has made. It’s so easy to take for granted the things that we enjoy - a roof over our heads, a connected transport system, wide-reaching education and working opportunities, our healthcare system with access to up-to-date investigations, medication and computerised systems. I still remember bringing a Bruneian exchange student three years back on a sight-seeing evening tour around the city district. As the lights came on across the CBD skyline, highlighting the MBS towers and the lotus-shaped Art Science Museum, it was then that I truly felt that sense of pride as I showed off our beautiful city.

As a nation, we have much to be thankful for, and it is important to take time to appreciate what we have achieved. As doctors, we see our fair share of ups and downs in our line of work - so let's not forget to appreciate the moments we have with our loved ones and family. Make time for dinner with your parents. Sit in front of the TV for one night with your spouse. Bring your kids out for a picnic in a (newly-minted-UNESCO-heritage) park. And bring them for a holiday away from it all. (Maybe a trip to Myanmar? Bagan looks really beautiful on Wikitravel...)

Wishing everyone out there a happy and fruitful 2016!