Breakthrough in tb treatment adopted globally

Dr Chew Chin Hin welcoming then President Benjamin Sheares at the annual Singapore-Malaysia Congress of Medicine in 1976.
PHOTO: Breakthrough in tb treatment adopted globally

SINGAPORE - Until the late 1970s, treatment for tuberculosis sufferers took a couple of years.

Thanks to Dr Chew Chin Hin and his team - who worked to find the best combination of drugs to combat the illness - it now takes six months. Their treatment regime has been adopted worldwide.

"I'm hoping and praying there will be more breakthroughs, especially in dealing with drug-resistant TB," said the 83-year-old adjunct Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore's Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and former chairman of the Health Ministry's TB Research Committee.

Dr Chew also started the nation's first foray into geriatric medicine in the 1980s, when he was the ministry's deputy director of medical services. The department which he convinced Dr Francis Joseph Jayaratnam to start at Tan Tock Seng Hospital set the standard and now most hospitals have geriatricians. As Singapore's population increases and lives longer, seeing the discipline grow over the years has been "gratifying", Dr Chew said.

As the National Medical Ethics Committee chairman from 1994 to 2000, he initiated the Advance Medical Directive, which allows people to state that they do not want extraordinary life-sustaining measures if they become terminally ill.

He became the first Singaporean to receive the prestigious Mastership in the American College of Physicians in 2010. His father Benjamin Chew also worked in hospitals, treating the casualties of World War II and rampant infectious diseases.

This article was first published on Aug 24, 2014.
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