Covid-19 has brought diagnostic tools to the fore, but more needs to be done: Kenneth Mak


SINGAPORE – The Covid-19 pandemic was a “hot platform” that accelerated new diagnostic technologies at unprecedented speed – with new test kits and rapid antigen tests developed in less than a year , Singapore Medical Services Director Kenneth Mak noted on Wednesday (Feb 16).

The field of diagnostics has come to the fore with the pandemic, with many using rapid test kits to monitor themselves for infections, for example.

“Yet there remains tremendous potential in how we can leverage technology to set new benchmarks of diagnostic excellence for accuracy and efficiency, and ultimately to improve outcomes of care,” said added Associate Professor Mak in a pre-recorded speech.

His speech aired during the inaugural virtual dialogue on accelerating the field of diagnostics and its applications in Asia, led by the SingHealth Duke-NUS Global Health Institute.

The virtual discussion, which involved nearly 300 health officials and diagnostic specialists in Singapore and the region, grew out of a global report which found that 47% of the world’s population have little or no access to diagnostic services.

Diagnostics refers to techniques and tools to diagnose diseases earlier and, sometimes, more quickly.

The report published last October by the Lancet Commission also revealed that 35-62% of the world’s population suffering from diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, human immunodeficiency virus and tuberculosis remain undiagnosed.

The SingHealth Duke-NUS Global Health Institute said in a statement Wednesday: “Lack of access to diagnostics leads to delayed detection of treatable diseases, and subsequently, poorer health outcomes and increased costs of care. health.”

The chair of the Lancet Commission on Diagnostics, Dr Kenneth Fleming, said the field of diagnostics, globally, is underfunded because its importance is underestimated.

“Patients in much of the world (are) being treated for diseases without access to the necessary diagnostic tests and services,” he observed.

In his recorded speech, Prof. Mak covered Singapore’s diagnostic landscape, which includes access to services, affordability, safety and quality of those services.

He recognized that new and innovative diagnostic methods must remain affordable and sustainable. In 2015, a national agency for health technology assessment was created to assess the clinical and economic effectiveness of health technologies and to support more informed decisions on use and subsidies.

Beyond improving diagnostic capabilities through new technologies and innovations, Professor Mak stressed that Singapore and the region should undertake more diagnostic research.

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