Dear friends of SFCS,

Welcome to SCFS’s first editorial! This will be the first in a regular (monthly) series of editorials where we talk about issues central to the theme of “Restoring Dignity to Incontinence Sufferers”.

In Singapore, 10-40% of the population is estimated to suffer from some form of urinary incontinence, while about 4.7% suffers from faecal incontinence. These are not uncommon conditions. Yet, incontinence remains a taboo subject for many members of the general public and incontinence patients. The condition remains highly misunderstood, and many sufferers are reluctant to come out to speak about their experiences dealing with incontinence due to the social stigma attached to incontinence. In truth, people may also be unwilling to bring up the subject for fear of making sufferers feel uncomfortable. However, all these factors have only contributed to the problem.

This reluctance to address the condition has created a perennial vicious cycle that has resulted in even more misunderstanding and shame for its victims. In an age of information and enlightenment, this should not be the case. It is about time we tackled the subject head-on and dig deeper. We need to promote better public understanding of the condition and foster greater empathy for its victims.

Through this series of editorials, we hope to achieve the above objectives which will ultimately help to fulfil the aim of “Restoring Dignity to Incontinence Patients”. For above all else, it is incontinence sufferers who have taken the brunt silently for many years as other people discriminate or look at them through coloured lenses. We need to understand how our uninformed actions have actually caused harm to incontinence sufferers.

To promote better understanding of the condition and the sufferers, we will delve into a number of pertinent topics in this editorial series. Some of the topics that we hope to discuss include the various different causes/types of incontinence, the experiences of incontinence sufferers, how we can help incontinence patients cope and live better with the condition, the opinions of continence care experts and professionals on the latest developments in the field, and discussion of the treatments/aids that can improve the quality of life of incontinence patients.

With the above introduction, we hope that you now have a better understanding of the purpose of this editorial series. While one may argue that the above discussions need not necessarily take the form of an editorial, we hope to deliver them in a more easily digestible, informal and hopefully, more impactful manner. We are looking not just to deliver information, and bring about discussions and better understanding. We are looking to speak directly to you so that we can effect change…in each and every single one of us.

To end, let us quote a couple of lines from the song Looking Through Patient Eyes, a song from the 1990s soul group P.M. Dawn. They are: “You seem illiterate to all my emotions” and “I hope you look at me through patient eyes”. Relating to incontinence patients and us (the general public), these lines seem to reflect the present stage that we are in and future state that we hope to achieve.

Let’s all work towards looking at incontinence sufferers with patient eyes.