Surely Singaporeans are getting more bedroom action. Circumstantial evidence seems to indicate so with our youths getting sexually liberated much earlier than their parents, the exciting night scene, the frequent overseas holiday with that special someone and even the rising transmission rate of STDs seem to say so. But why are our much-aroused factories not producing as many little ones as this govt so desires?
Singapore’s low TFR of 1.2 is a joke of sorts after spending $1.6billion annually on various packages to boost child-bearing and parenthood. And our most esteemed DPM Teo is probably right when he uttered, “Relying on government measures alone would not raise Singapore’s birth rate, as getting married and having children are personal decisions that reflect broader social values and attitudes.”
Chancing upon the fertility clinic
Last week, gallivanting around Marine Parade Central with my Minister of Home Affairs, happen to walk past the Chinese sinseh clinic at Blk 81 and it brought back memories of how we conceived our first child. Not the excitement of the actual act but the anticipation and disappointment in trying for a baby! We went for all sort of traditional and western treatments, tests, tonics, fertility clinic etc (spending all the money with nothing to show for!), nearly giving up on hope, before consulting this sinseh through the introduction of a friend and wham, bam, thank u sinseh! But all the troublesome in going for consultations and preparing the medicine and dealing with my moody emotional Minister…
Sometimes, I think it is an art to conceive, there are so many physiological factors in play not to mention how highly strung and stressed out young Singaporean couples are from their jobs, social life, hobbies, financial commitments etc. When we walk past the clinic, it was still fairly crowded with young couples seeking the holy grail.
Lending a helping hand to those who want but don’t get
Thus far, policies to boost child-bearing and parenthood have been aimed at improving the conditions in the post-natal environment, you know, Baby Bonuses, tax breaks, maternity leave, non-discrimination of preggers mothers, pro-family initiatives and the list goes on. Has the govt looked into specific actions to assist Singaporean couples who are trying for a baby?
Maybe MCYS can consider subsidizing fertility check-ups and tests, appointing certain doctors and sinsehs to research and treat those couples who are healthy but are somehow unsuccessful in having a little one? There should be more thought (or even publicity) spent on assisting those couples who are trying keenly but with no results.
MCYS has a website called http://www.maybebaby.sg (but it should really be definitelybaby.sg) where they share general information on preparing for a baby, preconception tests, maximizing fertility etc…hmmm maybe they should put up direct links or a hotline where couples can book an appointment with doctors, sinsehs or even sex therapists from govt hospitals.
The only govt sponsored fertility aid I know of is the assisted reproduction treatment subsidy that co-funds half of IVF treatment at public hospitals, capped at $3,000 per fresh cycle and up to a maximum of three fresh cycles. Medisave can be used to pay for part of the treatment but the subsidy is only for women below the age of 40, as the success rate of IVF drops drastically with age.
Should govt do more in this area? How many people take up this subsidy annually? What is the proportion of Singapore couples visiting the doctors because of fertility problems? More studies should be done to see if it is worthwhile for the govt to invest money into fertility aid and research as young couples are increasingly less inclined to having babies and more stressed with everyday working life in sunny Singapore.
What a boring post, but just doing my bit I guess.