Parliament Briefs

More tobacco products face ban

AFTER banning shisha last November, the Health Ministry is looking at banning other "emerging tobacco products" later this year, Parliamentary Secretary Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said.

Such products banned in other countries include oral-use tobacco and electronic cigarettes.

A public consultation on the use of standardised packaging for cigarettes and other tobacco products - plain boxes with graphic health warnings - will be conducted later this year.

Keeping security, retail staff healthy

WORKERS in the retail and security sectors can look forward to health programmes at their workplace later this year, Senior Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Heng Chee How said.

This is part of a long-running effort to help seniors stay healthy for longer, so that lifelong employment is possible.

Last June, the Health Promotion Board tied up with health-care cluster Alexandra Health System to provide health screenings to taxi drivers aged 40 and above.

A similar programme was rolled out for mature cleaners at Singapore Polytechnic in September.

Close watch on Chas clinics' fees

COMMUNITY Health Assist Scheme (Chas) clinics are being closely watched by the Health Ministry (MOH) to guard against overcharging.

One in three citizens, or 1.2 million people, are on the scheme that provides accessible and affordable medical and dental care to Singaporeans.

Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min noted that prices charged by different clinics may vary, but added that as a general rule, Chas GPs are expected to charge "reasonably" as patients are likely from the lower- and middle-income groups.

"MOH closely monitors Chas claims submitted by clinics, and clinics will be called upon to account for any exceptional claims.

"Chas GPs should make their charges transparent. We encourage patients to clarify charges and ask for itemised receipts if they are unclear," he said.

No shortage of obstetricians

SINGAPORE will not face a shortage of obstetricians, as between 60 and 70 of them will be graduating over the next five years.

There are also enough trained, experienced midwives who can deliver babies in public hospitals, said Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min.

Nominated MP Kuik Shiao-Yin had asked if recent changes in the terms of doctors' insurance plans could affect the supply of obstetricians.

The changes mean these doctors will no longer be protected against lawsuits once they stop paying for coverage. Given the high cost of continued coverage, many said they planned to stop delivering babies within the year.

"MOH is discussing with professional leaders and other stakeholders how best to address the issue," Dr Lam said.

"MOH will also consider ways to work with relevant parties to minimise impact on services and expectant mothers."

This article was first published on March 13, 2015.
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