21 January 2020, Singapore - Parents of children aged four years and younger can now enjoy integrated maternal health and child health services at the new Temasek Foundation Integrated Maternal and Child Wellness Hub. Located within SingHealth Polyclinics - Punggol, the hub is the first of its kind and will benefit up to 5,000 pairs of mothers and their children (aged 0 to 4) in the vicinity. Its official launch was graced by Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs, today.
The three-year pilot programme is a collaboration between KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH), SingHealth Polyclinics (SHP) and Temasek Foundation (TF). Started in July 2019, the Hub introduces preventive care and early intervention services critical to child development and growth. Such services include enhanced child developmental screening, growth monitoring, nutrition of children and lactation support for mothers. For mothers, there is also screening for postnatal depression. The Hub enhances existing services offered by the polyclinics, which include childhood immunisation, monitoring of developmental milestones and nutritional advice.
KKH and SHP-Punggol will also work with partner organisations in the vicinity to build an ecosystem of support for mothers and children. This integration of comprehensive screening, early intervention and network of community support aims to optimise developmental outcomes for children, as well as provide support for mothers.
Mr Richard Magnus, Chairman, Temasek Foundation Cares, said: "We have committed $2.56 million over three years to support the Temasek Foundation Maternal and Child Wellness Hub, Singapore’s first community hub for child development and maternal health. The Hub integrates structured screening services and holistic care for mother and child, supported by evidence gathered in Temasek Foundation’s earlier pilot programmes, such as the Kids Integrated Development Service (KIDS) 0-3, and the autism screening service for toddlers. This Hub is a big step forward in advancing community capabilities and achieving a shared vision of building up the next generation of Singaporeans."
Associate Professor Chan Yoke Hwee, Chairman, Division of Medicine, KKH, said, "Evidence shows that early childhood has a major role in shaping health later in life. The mother and child dyad is inseparable in its interdependency on health outcomes and well-being during this early childhood period. To deliver these priorities for child health, an integrated approach focused on building healthy behaviours as well as preventive care through screening and early intervention has to be adopted. Hence together with our sister institution, SHP-Punggol and the support of TF, we developed this new enhanced model of integrated care that aims to provide structured, comprehensive screening of mother and child, and offers holistic intervention in our local community."
Dr David Ng, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, SHP, echoes Associate Professor Chan’s sentiments, "At SHP-Punggol, we manage a lot of young families, and their children receive their immunisations at our polyclinic. Under the programme, we integrate the additional health support, early detection and intervention seamlessly into these existing touchpoints. KKH’s specialists also provide in-depth training of our healthcare staff which enables us to provide more comprehensive screening in the community such as postnatal depression in the mother; and developmental, nutritional or growth issues in the child."
Programme components at the Temasek Foundation Integrated Maternal and Child Wellness Hub
The integrated programme includes four main components:
Screening of mothers and their children who attend SHP-Punggol for immunisation
Polyclinics provide immunisation and conduct basic health checks for infants and children up to 48 months of age. Riding on the high adherence rate of immunisations at the polyclinic, the programme builds in enhanced child developmental screening, nutrition and lactation support, growth monitoring, screening for postnatal depression in mothers.
Figure 1 below illustrates the coupling of enhanced services with ongoing child immunisations at various ages/months. Postnatal depression screening for mothers and child developmental screenings for autism are additional assessments provided under this programme.
Figure 1: Enhanced services at the Hub coupled with child immunisation schedule
Training healthcare workers at SHP-Punggol to provide comprehensive screening
KKH’s specialists will train SHP-Punggol nurses and health educators to equip them with enhanced child development knowledge and conducting of the additional developmental assessments for children, to improve early detection. The healthcare staff at SHP-Punggol will also be trained to provide enhanced support for parents and caregivers.
Under the programme, care coordination services are provided for parents and caregivers. These include postnatal depression counselling and referral, breastfeeding support, counselling, intervention support, referral and follow-up for mother and child.
Educational and community outreach to raise awareness of child development, wellness and parenting
Parents can access education materials on maternal mental wellness as well as anticipatory guidance for their children according to various age groups. A community event, with a focus on maternal and child health, will be held this year to engage families and the community.
Favourable early outcomes
The programme has reaped some favourable early outcomes1, summarised below:
- 527 families have received education and nutrition support for lactation, weaning infant diet, and young child diet.
- 41 families have received anticipatory guidance materials on vaccinations, prevention of childhood injury, promoting healthy growth and development of the child, at various developmental ages.
- A total of 1,697 children received their developmental screenings at nine, 18 and 30 months. During the developmental screenings, 200 children were detected with potential developmental delays and referred to the next level of assessment and intervention.
- 1,126 mothers have received postnatal depression screening three months following delivery. 28 had positive screening and received timely triage and intervention.
Eligible participants of the new enhanced screening pilot programme at the Temasek Foundation Integrated Maternal and Child Wellness Hub must meet all of the following criteria:
- Children aged 0 to 30 months, attending SHP-Punggol for developmental check- ups and immunisations
- Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents
- Mothers who have delivered within the past three months (to benefit from the postnatal depression screening)
1As at 31 December 2019