Margaret Jane is a community site about improving children’s healthcare in Singapore set up by Dale Edmonds. I want to bring together the voices of parents and children, civil servants, medical staff and other Singaporeans to share our experiences, ideas and information.

The big questions behind Margaret Jane are:

  • Why does Singapore, one of the wealthiest and most advanced nations in the world, make families choose between poverty and their children’s healthcare?
  • Does the relatively high cost of healthcare for children make people hesitate to have children or to have bigger families?
  • Why does our society pass the cost of caring for children with chronic illnesses or challenges to their families?
  • What can we do to make Singapore a place where all children get a chance to grow up healthy and cared-for?
  • How much would it really cost to make healthcare free for children in Singapore?

Margaret Jane is also the name of my little girl born November 17, 2011. She was born ten weeks early in an emergency C-section and spent fifty days in the National University Hospitals’ neonatal ICU. After successful heart surgery, she came home at just over 2kg and after one more stay in the pediatric ICU for pneumonia, has gone on to become a happy and healthy little girl.

We heard so many stories from other families then and discovered for ourselves just how expensive a severely ill child could be. Our first four children had the usual chickenpox and colds, but even in the subsidized ‘C’ ward, Maggie’s hospitalization ended up wiping out about half of our medisave and a lot of our savings. We were very lucky to have relatively flexible jobs, but we heard from other parents who had to take time off work or quit their jobs to be with a sick child.

It seemed crazy then and still makes no sense that in a wealth country with a plunging birthrate, so many parents struggling to care for a very sick child need to hope for either public charity or bankrupt their family.

These children are Singapore’s future. Let’s do more than just talk about making Singapore family-friendly.