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New MOH taskforce on outbreak response aims to finish review by mid-2016

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A health ministry taskforce that will be set up to improve the national healthcare system's ability to detect and respond to infectious disease outbreaks will aim to complete its review by mid-2016, the ministry said in a press release on Wednesday evening.

A HEALTH ministry taskforce that will be set up to improve the national healthcare system's ability to detect and respond to infectious disease outbreaks will aim to complete its review by mid-2016, the ministry said in a press release on Wednesday evening.

Its announcement came a day after Health Minister Gan Kim Yong apologised to patients affected by the Hepatitis C outbreak in Singapore General Hospital (SGH) earlier this year and said he would set up a taskforce to be led by Chee Hong Tat, the Minister of State for Health.

An independent committee tasked to investigate the SGH case had found that lapses in infection prevention and control practices at the hospital played a major role in the Hep C outbreak, which occurred between April and June this year. Of the 25 patients who contracted the illness, eight died.

Mr Chee said in a statement on Wednesday that while Singapore has an "effective" surveillance system for outbreaks of disease in the community, the independent committee has identified "some gaps in how we detect and respond to uncommon and unusual infections".

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He said the taskforce would focus on ways to plug these gaps and make the healthcare system more resilient, adding that it would learn from international best practices and work closely with healthcare institutions and medical professionals to improve local systems.

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