The passing of the Singapore Family Planning and Population Board Act in December 1965 provided for the creation of a statutory authority to oversee family planning in Singapore and to execute the government’s Five-Year Family Planning Programme, 1966–1970. The Singapore Family Planning and Population Board (SFPPB) was officially inaugurated by then Minister for Health Yong Nyuk Lin on 12 January 1966.
The SFPPB took over the functions of the Singapore Family Planning Association (SFPA), a voluntary body that was set up in 1949 to introduce contraceptive education and services with the aim of improving the health and welfare of families, particularly mothers and their children. At the time, Singapore faced post-war food and housing shortages, which was compounded by unchecked population growth. The provision of family planning services, aimed to help parents plan their family size according to their means, was seen as part of the solution. However, with its limited resources, the SFPA struggled to meet the rising demand for family planning services. It appealed for the government to take over, especially since the bulk of its work was conducted in government maternal and child health centres.
A three-man review committee was subsequently appointed on 13 March 1965 to consider the proposed transfer of family planning activities from the SFPA to the Ministry of Health. In its report submitted on 29 June 1965, the committee recommended that the government assume responsibility for clinical work, research and publicity in the field of family planning from 1 October 1965. It also proposed adjustments to the annual grant given to the SFPA and sympathetic consideration on the employment of the association’s staff.
Tabled in Parliament on 27 September 1965, the White Paper on Family Planning accepted the recommendations of the review committee save for the date of transfer which was deferred to 1 January 1966 to ensure a smooth handover. The White Paper announced the National Five-Year Family Planning Programme and the establishment of a statutory board, the SFPPB, to implement the plan with the national target of recruiting 180,000 acceptors (individuals accepting family planning services) during the period 1966 to 1970.
Although 1966 was a year of organisation and planning for the newly-inaugurated SFPPB, it managed to make significant strides in the promotion of family planning. The target of 25,000 new acceptors for 1966 was reached by October and by the end of the year a total of 30,410 women had accepted family planning services with the SFPPB. The SFPPB ran 58 clinic sessions per week in 24 centres after it took over from the SFPA in January 1966. This rose to 103 sessions a week in 33 clinics by December 1966.
In the area of publicity and health education, the SFPPB started an educational programme in September 1966 which included a forum on family planning as well as a series of 12 weekly radio talks by family planning specialists. The SFPPB also embarked on radio, television and newspaper publicity and produced posters and pamphlets for free distribution to the public.
On 1 April 1985, the SFPPB closed, with the Ministry of Health taking over its role as well as staff. The Ministry had become more involved in the daily operations of the board due to the increasing complexities and scale of operations. The Singapore Family Planning and Population Board (Repeal) Bill was passed on 5 May 1986.
1. Singapore Family Planning and Population Board. (1967). First annual report of the Singapore Family Planning and Population Board 1966 (p. 14) Singapore: The Singapore Family Planning & Population Board. Call no.: RCLOS 301.426 SFPPB
2. S’pore plans to halve birth rate. (1966, January 13). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Singapore Family Planning and Population Board, 1967, p. 18; Saw, S-H. (2005). Population policies and programmes in Singapore (pp. 7–9). Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Call no.: RSING 363.96095957 SAW
4. Saw, 2005, pp. 7–8.
5. Saw, 2005, p. 8.
6. FPA service even after takeover. (1965, March 27). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Singapore Family Planning and Population Board, 1967, p. 15.
7. Singapore. Legislative Assembly. (1965). White paper on family planning. (Cmd. 22 of 1965) (p. 15). Singapore: Printed at the Govt. Print. Off. Call no.: RCLOS 301.426 SIN
8. Singapore. Legislative Assembly, 1965, p. 21.
9. Singapore. Legislative Assembly, 1965, p. 21.
10. Singapore. Legislative Assembly, 1965, p. 5.
11. Singapore. Legislative Assembly, 1965, p. 6; Singapore Family Planning and Population Board, 1967, p. 16.
12. Saw, 2005, 36.
13. Singapore Family Planning and Population Board, 1967, p. 1; 25,000 target reached in family planning. (1966, October 25). The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Singapore Family Planning and Population Board, 1967, p. 1.; Kanagaratnam, K. (1967, January 16). Family planning activities expand. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Singapore Family Planning and Population Board, 1967, p. 1.; The Straits Times, 16 Jan 1967, p. 8.
16. Singapore Family Planning and Population Board, 1967, p. 31.
17. Singapore Family Planning and Population Board, 1967, pp. 31–32.
18. Gan, D. (1985, April 1). A lot of good was born in 18 years. The Straits Times, p. 12.; Family planning board to close. (1985, March 29). The Straits Times, p. 48.; Keep on planning. (1986, May 7). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Gomez, B. (1986, 6 May). High-level group will formulate population policies. The Business Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
The information in this article is valid as at Feb 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.