On 5th June 2023, Singapore’s Temasek Foundation announced a $100 Singaporean Dollar endowment in the name of the late Richard Magnus to promote maternal and child health and development in Singapore. Richard Magnus was chairman of the Public Transport Council (PTC), a former senior district judge, founding and deputy chairman of Temasek Foundation, who passed away in March 2022. Throughout his life, he has dedicated his work to improving the lives of the vulnerable and the well-being of the Singapore community.
The endowment is closely related to one of the new care models developed under Mr. Magnus’s leadership known as the Integrated Maternal and Child Wellness Hub (IMCWH). It aims to support the health and well-being of mothers and young children, located at selected Polyclinics and provide screening who come to the clinic for immunisation and developmental assessment. The screening includes child development checks, nutritional support, and general growth check for children, and is frequently overlooked by many healthcare organisations – maternal mental health.
According to a news release from Temasek Foundation, over 14,000 screenings were carried out during the two-year pilot programme from 2019-2021. The model is now being expanded from the original Punggol Polyclinic to Bedok and Tampines Polyclinic and will be followed by Sengkang Polyclinic later this year. The model is also being incorporated as one of the four pilot sites of a new multi-agency collaborative programme called Family Nexus, co-led by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social and Family Development in Singapore, which incorporate social health into the practice of medicine to provide more holistic support. In their news release, the Foundation also acknowledged that building healthy behaviours and preventive care through screening and early intervention sets a strong foundation for nurturing healthier generations of Singaporeans.
Over the years, Temasek Foundation has initiated several endowments targeting maternal and child wellness: Balaji Sadavisan Endowment; the David Marshall Endowment; the Ee Peng Liang Endowment; the EW Barker Endowment; the Hon Sui Sen Endowment; the S Rajaratnam Endowment; and the Tay Eng Soon Endowment.
Unfortunately, the Singapore government has been battling against low birth rate with little effect. The total fertility rate hits an all-time low of 1.05 in 2022, lower than the previous record of 1.1 in 2022 and 1.12 in 2021. The rate is calculated based on the average number of live births each woman would have during her reproductive years. To maintain an equilibrium in population, the number required is 2.1, assuming no effect from immigration or emigration at all. The recent endowment provides another layer of protection to newborns and their families, which hopefully could contribute to more people willing to have children.