Germ-buster for kids

Germ-buster for kids

BIO BOX: Dr Mas Suhaila Isa

AGE: 35

OCCUPATION: Consultant at the division of paediatric infectious diseases at National University Hospital (NUH)

Dr Mas has always loved babies and children, so being able to attend to them is what keeps her going at work.

Another reason for her choice of field is her 58-year-old mother, a retired nurse who spent close to 40 years caring for adults and children with cancer.

As a child, Dr Mas would wait at the hospital for her mother and saw first-hand how she tended to children with cancer.

When the time came for her to choose a medical speciality, she recognised a pressing need for doctors in Singapore who could take care of children stricken with complex conditions because of infections.

Her patients range from newborn babies to teenagers up to the age of 16. She is one of only two paediatric infectious disease specialists at NUH and is happy to treat children with cancer as well as those suffering from other ailments.

She finds germs "fascinating and powerful", but thinks the human body is even more amazing. "I love this aspect of my job: I have to consider the patient as a whole, as opposed to just one part of his body."

She is married to a 35-year-old mechanical engineer. They have two children aged six and two. She is expecting her third child in March.

I specialise in treating infectious diseases in children because...

I have always been intrigued by how germs find ways and means to evade our immune system, how antibiotics were developed, and how germs develop resistance against these antibiotics.

My team and I see patients from every sub-specialty so we have to know a little - or a lot - about everything in the world of paediatrics, not just one particular organ such as the brain or the heart.

Children's bodies are fascinating because...

Their bodies are growing and have unique medical needs, so they are not just mini adults.

They may not always answer medical questions, or be patient and cooperative, so paediatricians have to find ways to examine and treat them as they express their concerns differently from adults.

Yet, children can be amazingly resilient. I have seen children who managed to bounce back from the brink of death.

One little-known fact about infectious diseases is...

Prevention is the key to fighting many infectious diseases.

This includes proper handwashing techniques; certain contact precautions, depending on the disease type; adhering to the nationally recommended immunisation schedule; taking medications as prescribed; and not taking antibiotics unnecessarily.

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