Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Indian-Origin Doctor Known For Preventing Communicable Diseases Via Air Travel Dies

Dr Jarnail Singh, an Indian-origin doctor who gained the limelight as an expert on stopping the spread of communicable diseases via air travel died on Wednesday.

The 67-year-old doctor headed several local and global aviation medicine organisations and was the first chairman of the Civil Aviation Medical Board of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).

He coordinated the international response during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 that allowed the aviation sector to get back on its feet, the Straits Times reported.

Dr Singh also used his expertise to chair the CAAS' ultra-long-range task force, which put Singapore on the map by launching the world's first non-stop ultra-long-range commercial flight from Singapore to New York in 2004.

Singh died on February 6 in Singapore. His death has prompted tributes from those in the aviation and medical sectors worldwide.

Professor Chew Chin Hin, an emeritus consultant at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, said Dr Singh had a large part to play in establishing aviation medicine as a speciality in Singapore.

He had focused on training younger medical examiners who are responsible for health assessments of pilots and air traffic controllers.

"Aviation medicine has advanced immensely in recent decades. Certainly, Jarnail has contributed in a large measure to the training and in establishing high standards of the speciality, to the benefit of the many aviation medicine physicians we have today," said Prof Chew.

"Internationally, he was greatly respected as a much sought-after authority for expert advice. He will be greatly missed," the report quoted Prof Chew as saying.

Aviation medicine focuses on the safety and health of air crew and passengers and tackles the spread of disease through air travel, which makes pandemics a transborder and transcontinental event.

In an interview with the Singapore Medical Association in 2015, Dr Singh described humans as "the weak link in the entire safety chain", which aviation medicine hopes to strengthen.

17/02/21 Outlook

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