SINGAPORE: A study that estimates there were 2,200 premature deaths in Singapore due to the 2015 haze crisis is "not reflective of the actual situation", the country's Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Monday (Sep 19). The study by researchers from Harvard and Columbia universities in the US also said there were more than 100,000 premature deaths caused by transboundary haze from Indonesian forest fires.
MOH said such modelling studies are based on "various assumptions", and the validity of these assumptions influence the accuracy of the estimates. "We note that the modelling study does not take into consideration the mitigating measures that were implemented by countries affected by the haze," a spokesperson said in response to media queries.
The age-standardised death rate in Singapore was not higher in 2015, compared with the years 2010 to 2014, MOH added. Its figures show the age-standardised mortality rate per 1,000 residents in Singapore was 3.2 in 2015, compared to 3.3 in 2014 and 3.4 the year before.
The Health Ministry said that for healthy people, short-term exposure to haze over a few days would not generally cause any major health issues other than irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, in healthy individuals. However, haze particles can affect the heart and lungs, especially in people who already have chronic heart or lung disease.
"In past years, when the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) was consistently in the higher range, we have activated the Haze Subsidy Scheme to make it affordable for those with haze-related conditions to seek treatment," MOH said.