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Health and health care in Singapore

Singapore has a highly-rated health care system, generally considered one of the best in the world.

Singapore is a centre for medical tourism, with high-quality, specialist treatment available there. The 2016 Medical Tourism Index placed Singapore 4th in the world for medical tourism. In fact, a government-industry partnership, Singapore Medicine, is an organisation established to promote their high-quality health care to other countries.

English is widely spoken, and many private health care providers have dedicated international patient centres. There are 18 public and not-for-profit hospitals in Singapore, as well as 10 private hospitals. Health care in Singapore can be expensive compared to that in other parts of Southeast Asia, particularly for those who don’t participate in the mandatory Medisave programme or the more comprehensive MediShield cover. Expatriates may be offered health care in an employer's programme as part of a salary or relocation package, but this may not comprise full coverage or be suitable for those with ongoing medical conditions. Private health insurance is, therefore, essential for short trips and long-term stays and should include repatriation to your home country in the event of an emergency.

Health risks in Singapore

Yellow fever

Yellow Fever is not an infection risk in Singapore, but there is a certificate requirement if you are arriving from a country with a risk of yellow fever transmission. (see the WHO list of countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission).

Food and drink

Since the closure of street stalls in favour of organised hawker centres — fresh food market places where you can sample the best street food Singapore has to offer — food hygiene has improved and is now considered good. You should try to avoid eating any shellfish, reheated foods, or raw vegetables and always wash unpeeled fruit. You can drink tap water safely.


Respiratory conditions, such as asthma, are a risk due to occurrences of smog and there is also a risk for hand, foot and mouth disease and Dengue fever. Visit your doctor or travel health clinic for advice on health risks and see our article on vaccinations to ensure you’re up to date with the recommended protection. Hepatitis A infection is not unknown, although rare, and vaccination may be considered

Dengue fever

Dengue fever is a viral infection that, like malaria, is contracted through the bites of infected mosquitoes. The mosquitoes responsible for Dengue fever are known to feed during daylight hours, i.e. between dawn and dusk, and are most commonly found in urban areas. Symptoms of infection are flu-like, sometimes becoming life-threatening.

There is currently no vaccination or medication available to prevent infection, so travellers are strongly advised to practise bite prevention (as outlined below – see Insect-borne diseases) to minimise risk.

Hand, foot and mouth disease

Ensure you are diligent with hand-washing to guard against contracting hand, foot and mouth disease.

Insect-borne diseases

Although malaria is considered a low risk to Singapore and antimalarials are not a mandatory requirement, you should consider taking precautions and do your best to avoid insect bites.  Ensure your accommodation is insect-proof (using treated mosquito nets if necessary), use insect repellent at all times (ideally those which contain DEET, reapplied at regular intervals), and wear long, loose-fitting and light-coloured clothing (ideally treated with insecticide).


HIV is increasing in Singapore and Hepatitis B is a risk for all travellers. You should ensure all relevant vaccines are up to date and also practice safe sex by using condoms correctly, together with avoiding situations that increase your risks. Syphilis and gonorrhoea are the most common venereal diseases, spread through all forms of sex.

Zika virus

In August 2016, Singapore had an outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus. The disease can be sexually transmitted, and has been linked to certain congenital conditions as a result of the mother contracting Zika while pregnant.

If you or your partner are pregnant prior to your relocation to Singapore, you may consider delaying your move until after your baby is born — this is a personal decision and is not a necessity.

If you’re concerned about contracting the Zika virus whilst living in Singapore, the main advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) is to practice bite-prevention. In addition to this, if you are already pregnant and concerned about a partner transmitting the illness, the WHO suggestion practicing safe sex or abstaining from it for at least the duration of your pregnancy. You can find more information about the virus on our Zika FAQ page.

Accidents and crime

Crime is lower than in places like the UK and Singapore is ranked higher for safety, too, with violent crime being rare. With a 54 percent increase in crime over the past three years, risks of being robbed or mugged, or having your home broken into, are still considered very low; however, bag-snatching and theft from vehicles are not uncommon. Visitors are advised against any actions that could be misinterpreted as molestation, with many false claims and scams being reported. 

Index* Singapore United Kingdom
Crime Index: 16.27 41.45
Safety Scale: 83.75 58.55

Air quality

During seasonal haze episodes, which can be caused by forest fires or intensive logging and heavy industrial manufacturing in neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia, blankets of smog can cover large areas causing respiratory irritations. ‘Smog cough’ is a problem caused by air pollution and results in difficulty in breathing and even asthma. Protection can be gained from wearing a charcoal dust mask during days when pollution is at its highest, together with minimising exposure by limiting time outdoors. Be sure to take advice from your doctor and bring your inhalers and any other medications you may require.

Natural disasters

Singapore is known to be at risk from a variety of natural disasters including floods, tornadoes, tsunami, wildfire, heat waves, hurricanes, and volcanic eruption. In dry months, droughts are a possibility.

Terrorist attacks and civil unrest

While Singapore is considered a safe destination, there is a general threat of terrorist attacks and an underlying risk of indiscriminate attacks taking place at destinations popular with tourists and expatriates.  Extensive measures are in place, and the Singaporean government has arrested some terror suspects.

Law enforcement

Prosecution of expats in Singapore is relatively rare, but it is wise to be aware of the risks. Fines for minor offences such as smoking in a public place, chewing gum on public transport, or dropping litter are common. It should also be noted that vaporisers, e-cigarettes and any of their associated paraphernalia are prohibited in Singapore. An attempt to bring them into the country can result in confiscation, a fine or even a prison sentence. More serious offences incurring corporal punishment include public displays of drunkenness and drink-driving. Deportation is common if you outstay your visa. Singapore’s approach to law enforcement is uncompromising: the death penalty is still used for murder, drug smuggling, and other serious offences.

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