ABSTRACT

This chapter maps the ‘action programme’ against tuberculosis of the People’s Action Party government after 1959, when Singapore became a self-governing state. The new government largely retained and utilised the colonial policy framework, most importantly the centralised role of the Tuberculosis Control Unit. But its efforts were more robust and far-reaching in their social reach and impact than the colonial precedent. Slum clearance and urban renewal occurred alongside public health measures. The 1960s brought quick, dramatic results in the anti-tuberculosis policy, with decisive falls in morbidity and mortality. Just as remarkably, the TBCU and the Ministry of Health continued to review, innovate and refine other aspects of tuberculosis control despite these achievements. The reflexive approach of the state was exemplified in both the evolution of the BCG immunisation programme and a new focus on the surveillance of the elderly population in the 1970s and 1980s. There was thus no ‘end of history’ in the narrative of tuberculosis in postcolonial Singapore, but instead continuing reflexivity and reform.