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SINGAPORE: A medical tourism platform that reportedly offered awards to doctors for the price of around S$10,000 is being investigated by the Ministry of Health.

Global Health Asia Pacific (Ghapac) has allegedly given doctors a chance to be awarded physician of the year in their speciality for a price approaching S$9,800.

A gastroenterologist named Dr Desmond Wai told The Straits Times that he could have been Gastroenterologist of the Year in 2020, 2022, and 2023. Had he paid the amount, he would have brought home the award, been featured in the company’s magazine, and promoted on social media.

Dr Wai has declined the offer every time it was made, he told ST.

MOH is quoted in ST as saying that under the HCSAR—the Healthcare Services (Advertisement) Regulation— “only awards or accreditations that are awarded to or conferred on a licensed healthcare provider for compliance with technical standards may be displayed or published within their own premises, or on their websites and social media accounts,” including accreditations by Joint Commission International and ISO certifications, it added.

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Moreover, healthcare firms are disallowed from offering money or any other compensation as a guarantee for, or in exchange for, an award or type of honour.

These awards could “convey an unjustified impression of the quality of the healthcare provider’s services,” MOH added.

The case involving Ghapac is now under investigation, and parties discovered to breach advertising guidelines will have enforcement action taken against them.

MOH is further quoted as saying, “We remind all doctors that ethical standards in their practice and behaviour must be in accordance with the Singapore Medical Council’s (SMC) Ethical Code and Ethical Guidelines, which also sets out the requirements for doctors on the appropriate use of advertisement.”

The Independent Singapore has contacted Ghapac for comment.

Ghapac’s video of Healthcare and Hospital Awards for 2023 can be seen below. The caption reads:

“The GlobalHealth Asia-Pacific Healthcare and Hospital Awards 2023 was held at The Ritz-Carlton, Bali on May 26-27 2023, bringing together industry leaders and visionaries to drive positive change in the healthcare sector.

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The event was a powerhouse weekend, focused on empowering the future of healthcare in the Asia-Pacific region, and culminated in an awards ceremony that recognized outstanding achievements in the field.” /TISG

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