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Last year the half-day SMA Ethics Symposium on “Medical Advertising: Boon or Bane” held in conjunction with the SMA Lecture attracted a record crowd of more than 200 doctors. This year, we have expanded it to a full-day Ethics Convention with a keynote address, two symposia and the 1997 SMA Lecture.

Lectures on medical ethics have been perceived as peripheral and academic by doctors. Bringing ethics home as bread-and-butter issues is an attempt to show the profession that it has to engage ethical challenges head-on in their daily work. Two articles in this Newsletter reflect the work of the SMA Ethics Committee in grappling with medical ethical issues of the day.

The 1997 SMA Lecture “In Search of Future Role Models in Medicine” by Dr Wong Heck Sing, a much respected physician who has just retired from active practice, is timely. The Minister for Health, at the 5th SGH Formal Lecture on 27 April 1997, emphasised the importance of role models. He said: “... Besides good training, we also need to preserve the virtuous cycle, where each generation of doctors ensures that the next generation will  be even better...”

The SMA Ethics Convention 1997 with the theme “The Medical Profession and the Industry” has a keynote address by Prof S Y Tan, Professor of Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Law of the University of Hawaii and two symposia.

The first symposium, “The Medical Profession and the Pharmaceutical Industry” is organised with the participation of the Singapore Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (SAPI). The Academy of MedIcine recently published a position paper on “Pharmaceutical Companies and Doctors in Singapore”.  We hope to stimulate discussion on the subject and generate a profession-wide consensus.

The second symposium is on “Managed Care”.  The SMA organised the first Managed Health Care Conference in 1993 when Managed Care was first introduced into Singapore by the NTUC. Now, four years later, the number of patients under managed healthcare has increased. The recent legislation introduced by the Labour Ministry on medical benefits may further increase the impact of the scheme. It is important for us to discuss the ethical implications involved.

At the start of the Ethics Convention, this year, the SMA will be conferring SMA Honorary Membership upon Dr Kwa Soon Bee, former Permanent Secretary (Health), Director of Medical Services in recognition of his meritorious service to Medicine and the community.

Please make time to attend the SMA Ethics Convention on Sunday, 26 October 1997. The Organising Committee promises that it will be a session on ethics that will be different from those you have attended so far. You can bring it home.