Singapore: Indian-origin doctor known for establishing aviation medicine dies
Indian-origin doctor, Dr. Jarnail Singh, who became renowned as an expert on stopping communicable diseases spread via air travel and in establishing aviation medicine specialty, died on February 6 in Singapore, a media report said. He was the first chairman of the Civil Aviation Medical Board of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and headed several local and global aviation medicine organizations.
Dr. Singh led many aviation projects of importance
"Dr. Singh 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. He 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.
Dr. Singh played key role in establishing aviation medicine
Dr. Singh's death 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 specialty in Singapore. He had focused on training younger medical examiners that are responsible for health assessments of pilots and air traffic controllers."
Contributed immensely to setting high standards of the specialty
Professor Chew said, "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 specialty, to the benefit of the many aviation medicine physicians we have today." "Internationally, he was greatly respected as much sought-after authority for expert advice. He will be greatly missed," Professor Chew added.
All you need to know about aviation medicine
Aviation medicine focuses on the safety and health of aircrew and passengers and tackles the spread of disease through air travel, which makes pandemics a trans-border and trans-continental event.
'Humans are the weak link in the entire safety chain'
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. He was posted to Singapore's local air bases as a doctor while he was serving his national role, which heavily influenced his decision to specialize in the aviation sector.
How he convinced authorities to build Air Force's aeromedical center
Dr. Singh said that one of his proudest achievements was the Singapore Air Force's aeromedical center. He once used a video of himself losing consciousness in a training centrifuge to convince the then Minister of Defense that it was a necessary investment for Singapore's pilots.
Jarnail sought the greater good: Professor Gander
Professor Philippa Gander of the Sleep/Wake Research Centre at New Zealand's Massey University, which worked with Dr. Singh on ultra-long-range flights, said, "It seems like the passing of an era. I will remember Jarnail as a warm, gracious, and smart colleague. A remarkable man who always sought the greater good and will be missed." He is survived by his wife, son, and daughter.