We need to “live up to the name Ministry of Health, not Ministry of Sickness”.
That was a quip from Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung in Parliament today (October 4) at the start of the debate on the White Paper on Healthier SG.
Healthier SG, which places a strong emphasis on preventive care, and individual and community responsibility, is a “fundamental reorientation and reform of our healthcare system” said Minister Ong:
“Focus on preventive care instead of curative care, emphasise on health instead of sickness. Shift the centre of gravity of care away from hospital into the community. Rely less on doctors for health, but depend on communities, our families, and ourselves.”
The philosophy of Healthier SG
“At the heart of Healthier SG is a philosophy of how we choose to live our lives. If we put in a bit of effort every day, a bit of discipline every week, a bit of restrain every week, we can avoid the life changing sufferings later,” he said.
Personal responsibility, thus, plays a big part too for Healthier SG to succeed. But instant gratification, as Minister Ong noted, is not helping matters.
“Have a puff to destress now, worry about health later; eat the cheesecake now, worry about sugar later. Eat fried chicken now, it’s very nice; laze around instead of exercising; binge watch Korean drama instead of having a good night’s sleep. All these instant gratification, everyone’s smiling, we’re all guilty.”
“Nothing bad will happen immediately or next day but they accumulate to cause serious diseases or can aggravate existing illnesses later. Every grain of sand you keep dropping will become a bucket. And by then, it will be a big burden. It can cost us our organs, our limbs, our minds, our lives.”
A disciplined life, with the occasional treat, will go a long way and steer us away from a life of regrets.
Why Healthier SG is the way forward?
There are two important considerations, said the health minister.
First, the Singapore population is ageing rapidly.
“To reduce the disease burden and preserve the quality of life of our people in the coming years, we have to become healthier.”
Second, Singaporeans have shown during the pandemic that we are able (and willing) to integrate preventive care into our healthcare journeys.
“The things we do during the pandemic — vaccinations, tests, self-isolation — these are all preventive care in action. We found ways to integrate preventive care with acute care in hospitals, in our treatment facilities and with home recovery,” said Minister Ong.
If Singaporeans can do the same in fighting chronic illnesses that come with ageing, it will make a big difference in the next decade, he added.
Cover image credit: Ministry of Health/Facebook