In 2011, the Singapore Urological Association (SUA) celebrates her 25th anniversary. In these short but eventful years, SUA has celebrated several significant milestones, which have propelled her to the forefront of Singapore Medicine, despite her small size. We currently have 73 full urological members for a population of 5.5 million.
On the international front, the SUA has played the gracious host to every internationally recognized urology conference – World Congress of Endourology and Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) in 1993, Asian Congress of Urology in 1998, Société Internationale d'Urologie (SIU) in 2000 and World-Video-Urology in 2006. In recent years, SUA members have had the privilege of sitting on distinguished international boards, such as SIU, Society of Endourology and Urological Association of Asia. Two members were appointed co-chairman at the World International Consultations in Paris on benign prostatic hyperplasia and urinary stone diseases, respectively.
On the home front, all Singapore registered urologists are members of the SUA. With this united passion and collaboration, the SUA has been the voice to represent the urological community at every level; that is, to the public, government bodies and postgraduate medical schools.
Looking back, there have been several key factors that have helped spur SUA growth to date. I would like to highlight just three factors:
- 1Foreign talentIn the early years of Singapore urological services, especially in the mid 1980s, we had several foreign-born urologists who toiled with local talent to jump-start the rise of urology as a distinct and separate surgical discipline. We salute founding members from Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India and Holland. Interestingly, I was the first Singapore-born staff urologist in the history of the Department of Urology of the Singapore General Hospital in 1991.
- 2Generous support from Singapore Ministry of HealthThe Singapore Ministry of Health's manpower development program (HMDP) was crucial in allowing post-residency urologists to train and work in cutting edge international institutions to gather more subspecialized experience and international exposure from the mid 1980s to date. The priceless opportunity to learn both the science and art of urology led to the early development of dedicated subspecialty services, such as uro-oncology, endourology and female urology, as early as in 1997 in Singapore hospitals.
- 3Family physicians and urologists collaborationsThe reaching out to family physicians since our early years resulted in early diagnosis and a growing awareness of urological issues. Several share-care programs and multiple yearly conferences initiated over the years, and the close collaboration between family physicians and urologists, resulted in better outcomes for our urological patients; for example, in diagnosis of prostate cancer. The age-adjusted risk for prostate cancer for the period of 2003–2007 was 5.7-fold increase that observed in the period of 1968–1972. Currently, prostate cancer is the third commonest cancer in males in Singapore.
As the SUA marches on to her next 25 years, the vision is to have a stronger and closer SUA to serve our urological community. This vision of a stronger and closer SUA is achieved with a strategy to allocate our limited resources to build three strong pillars:
- 1Academic excellenceThis is a vital platform to maintain cutting edge technology and expertise in Singapore urology. From organizing our twice-monthly nationwide residency teaching program to our yearly regional Chief Residency Exit program to our robust Annual Congress in Urology, the SUA seeks to churn out high quality academic programs.
- 2Integration of members and their familiesThis second pillar understands that growing ties between members results in greater teamwork and mutual respect in the coming years. To this end, we have organized four social evenings a year, along with our yearly family retreat, to promote unity in our ranks.
- 3Building relationships both locally and internationallyThis pillar focuses on building a strong relationship with our regional and international associations. Several members sit on American, international and Asian boards, which further strengthens our network to facilitate overseas training opportunities for our next generation.Building strong local relationships with health authorities, family physicians and Singapore health organizations will continue to make SUA relevant in the years to come.
On her 25th anniversary, SUA marches on!!