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...the new SMJ marked the beginning of a new era in Singapore’s medical archives as it will be the only monthly regional medical journal found in the Index Medicus.

The inaugural issue of the new format Singapore Medical Journal (SMJ) was officially launched on 31 January 1997 at the Alumni Medical Centre auditorium. The event was attended by members of the SMA Council, SMJ Editorial Board, presidents of the Singapore Medical Council, Singapore Nurses Association, Singapore Association of Pharmaceutical Industries and representatives from major pharmaceutical manufacturers and regular advertisers.

In his welcoming address, SMA President, Dr Cheong Pak Yean gave an overview of the history of the official SMA publications - the SMJ and the SMA Newsletter. The Singapore Medical Journal was first published in March 1960 with the formation of SMA as a separate entity from MMA. Prior to that, the local Alumni Association had been publishing the ‘Proceedings of the Alumni Association of Malaysia’ and with the founding of SMA, it was renamed the Singapore Medical Journal (SMJ). Dr Gwee Ah Leng, former Medical Director of Singapore General Hospital, was its first editor. In 1966, the SMA Newsletter was launched by Dr Arthur Lim.

Dr Cheong said that the main reasons for the merging of the SMA Newsletter and the SMJ into a single monthly publication were to attract a wider readership and to reduce thc lead time between submission of papers and publication in the SMJ. The circulation of the SMJ is targetted at 5,000 with one-quarter of this being sent to major institutions and doctors in Southeast Asia. 

The format of the new SMJ is being divided into two broad sections - the scientific section and the news section. The scientific section is the expanded content of the old SMJ while the news section focuses on current practice-related issues that are pertinent to doctors such as ethical issues, healthcare financing and continuing medical education.

Commenting on his vision for the SMJ, editor, Associate Professor Kua Ee Heok said that the new SMJ marked the beginning of a new era in Singapore's medical archives as it will be the only monthly regional medical journal found in the Index Medicus. He hoped that the readership of SMJ will expand beyond ASEAN to include other Asian countries like China, Japan and Korea. This would boost the prestige of the SMJ in the world of medical literature and serve as an encouragement to local researchers to publish their work locally.

Professor Kua noted that many of the renowned medical institutions of the West are known for their contributions to international medical journals. The New England Journal of Medicine, for example, features case records of the Massachusettes General Hospital. The new SMJ will include a ‘Grand Round’ section, featuring case reports of unusual cases from our hospitals. An Education section has also been introduced to update the knowledge and improve the diagnostic and management skills of readers. To provide some light bedtime reading, articles on non-medical topics such as wine appreciation, travel, music and art will be included in the news section to add a light flavour to the heavy-going scientific section.

The event ended with a word of thanks from Dr Cheong to the advertisers, Editorial Board members and SMA secretarial staff for making the publication of the new SMJ possible. This was followed by a buffet dinner at the Alumni Medical Centre.

      Dr Au Kah Kay