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Living in Asia with your little ones is one of the most enriching experiences in your life. But, as an expat, healthcare systems for babies and toddlers may be tricky to navigate. So, how do you protect them? 

In this new episode of Abroad With Care , Andrea interviews Natalie Spencer, registered nurse and midwife from Mother and Child Singapore, to answer our questions. 

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Let’s have a look at Asian culture first. When it comes to taking care of children’s health, what are the key characteristics in Asia?

Like in all parts of the world, there are many reasons to be concerned, especially when you have a first baby. In Asia, parents are very focused on food. They want to make sure that the baby is fed enough. Also, staying warm is seen as staying healthy. Many parents avoid staying under the sun with their baby and rather stay inside. 

What are the differences in the medical system? 

In Asia, hierarchy is important. There are very strict protocols. For example, doctors are the top layer while nurses are a bit underneath. This means that, at the hospital, nurses are focused on accomplishing their tasks. They are not focused on your emotions or your mental well-being. The way they may speak to you may be different from what you are used to in Europe or in America. 

You may find that doctors behave in the same way. They may deliver news to you in a way that you may find a bit cold. No one means any harm, it is just the way communication is done here. Be emotionally prepared. 

As an expat, how do you find the right doctor for your baby? 

You have both options: going to a paediatrician or going to a general practitioner (GP) depending on what health care system you are accustomed to in your home country. If you want to use a GP, find a GP that has paediatric expertise. Some GP’s in Singapore and Hong Kong do not feel comfortable with treating children. 

Online research is a good start to find your doctor. Several Facebook groups provide recommendations. You can also leverage your insurance provider. They usually have a list of covered doctors according to your insurance plan.

>Abroad With Care is available on most podcast platforms, such as Apple Podcast, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Podcast Addict. Subscribe today and make sure not to miss out on any of our short episodes! 

How do you choose between a general practitioner (GP) and a pediatrician? 

A pediatrician is a doctor that specializes just in children. A GP sees patients for the whole life. There are some GPs that rather see adults. When you are looking for a GP, make sure that you find someone that does pediatrics. 

For expats, vaccinations for children may be a complex topic. What are the requirements in Hong Kong and in Singapore?

If you have already had your baby in your home country and you already follow a specific vaccination schedule, it should not differ too much. But it is best to know ahead of time what vaccines are required. 

For newborns, tuberculosis is recommended in Singapore and in Hong Kong. If your toddlers are going to go to infant care, they need to comply with vaccination requirements. Singapore and Hong Kong vaccination schedules are based on the UK one.

How do I make sure that my baby is covered by my insurance company from day 1? 

Obviously, you have to carefully read your insurance plan details. If you are pregnant, most insurance providers cover emergency situations and usually the first few days of your baby for common issues such as jaundice. Then, once you have obtained your newborn’s visa, you are usually eligible to put them on your insurance plan. 

What are your tips to keep babies and toddlers safe in Asia?

In Singapore, dengue fever is very prevalent. Insect repellent is highly recommended. You can use insect repellent from 3 months onwards, with DEET content of less than 30%. You can also use mosquito netting over pram when out walking, especially near watery and river way areas.

A good sun protection is necessary as these countries are very hot. Sun screen can be used from 6 months onwards. Always wear a hat, cover the body and try to stay in shaded areas. Hydration is also key, especially in Singapore with high temperature and high humidity all year long. It is safer to go out in cooler times of the day, before 11am and after 4pm. 

Lastly, with so many swimming pools all around, water safety is critical. Swimming pools are usually designed for the aesthetics of a condo, and not for safety. These areas are slippery and there is no fence. You may consider swimming lessons. And always monitor your children.

At APRIL International Care, we are specialist in designing and delivering flexible international health insurance for individuals, families and companies in Asia. For more information, explore our MyHEALTH plans for expats in Asia. 

You can contact our different offices around Asia and request a quote, our experts will be happy to assist you!

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