A/Prof Benjamin Ong appointed new Director of Medical Services of MOH

SINGAPORE - Professor Satkunanantham s/o Kandiah, Director of Medical Services (DMS) of the Ministry of Health (MOH), will be relinquishing his appointment with effect from January 1 next year after spending almost a decade in the Ministry.

Associate Professor Benjamin Ong will succeed him as DMS, and be appointed as DMS-Designate on December 1.

Prof Satku will be returning to clinical practice and teaching at the National University Health System (NUHS), and will concurrently take up the role of Director of a new Centre for Health Systems and Policy Research in the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health. He will be taking up other appointments within the healthcare family, and these will be announced at a later date.

During his tenure as Director of Medical Services, Prof Satku made invaluable contributions to policy formulation, professional education and standards, and healthcare innovations, MOH said.

Prof Satku oversaw a major transformation of the system for education and training of medical professionals, strengthened healthcare regulatory capabilities, significantly enhanced Singapore's pandemic emergency preparedness, and built a strong foundation for quality assurance and safety in our healthcare institutions, the Ministry said in a statement.

He notably introduced the Family Physician Register, championed the development of the primary care masterplan and  led the development of a national mental health blueprint and policy for Singapore.

In the area of public health, Prof Satku's clinical leadership guided the healthcare community's response to crises, such as the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic in 2009.

A neurologist with research interests in neuroimmunology and neuroepidemiology as well as a champion of the use of healthcare information technology for quality and process improvement in patient care, A/Prof Ong has held various leadership appointments in his 27-year-career at the National University Hospital (NUH).

These include key posts such as Chief Executive of NUHS, Chairman of the hospital's Medical Board, as well as Chair of the Department of Medicine at the medical school and the NUH.

The Ministry of Health expressed its deepest appreciation to Prof Satku, and at the same time extended a warm welcome to A/Prof Benjamin Ong as the new DMS.

yamadak@sph.com.sg