Here for the long haul: Govt launches new research programme to prep S’pore for future pandemics

A new medical research programme was launched today (Nov 3).

Called Programme for Research in Epidemic Preparedness and Response, or simply PREPARE, this initiative, as its name suggests, aims to build up Singapore’s preparedness and response capabilities for future pandemics.

Among its many tasks is to develop a national epidemic research and development plan.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, speaking at the launch today, said that having a dedicated research programme will help to bring together multi-disciplinary experts throughout the pandemic research ecosystem in a coordinated fashion.

Indeed, the team behind PREPARE is made up of various experts across different organisations.

Professor Wang Linfa from Duke-NUS Medical School will lead PREPARE as executive director, alongside Professor David Lye from the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), who will be his deputy. Singapore’s Chief Health Scientist Professor Tan Chorh Chuan co-chairs its steering committee.

Minister Ong added that having experienced Covid-19, Singapore will further enhance its preparedness against future pandemics and PREPARE will be one of the key initiatives.

Not just the here and now

The fact that the PAP Government will fund this important programme with S$100 million over five years illustrates the Party’s commitment to strengthen Singapore — in this case, protect Singaporeans from future outbreaks.

In fact, this programme is also a part of the PAP Government’s S$25 billion plan to drive research, innovation and enterprise.

Minister Ong said at the launch that adaptability has been a hallmark of Singapore’s response to Covid-19. The same also can be said about the Government’s response in overcoming challenges.

We would add one more characteristic: always planning ahead.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat first announced PREPARE back in 2020, saying that the programme will support and strengthen essential research capabilities, translational platforms, and expertise that could further strengthen early detection, diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccine development in Singapore.

The PAP Government continues to look ahead even when there’s no guarantee that the Party will continue to govern Singapore.

Because this is what a responsible Government will do.

Cover photo credit: NHG