It’s about HEALTH: Rahayu Mahzam on Healthier SG


Parliament endorsed Healthier SG today (Oct 5). So now it’s full speed ahead for this major long-term transformation of Singapore’s healthcare system.

Healthier SG focuses on all-round preventive care so that Singaporeans can live long, healthy lives; the Government ultimately has a Ministry of Health, not of Illness or Sickness.

To do this, Healthier SG fosters lasting relationships between residents and family doctors as well as active communities.

There’s a lot to understand — and so much happening — while these changes go on.  

Luckily, in her speech today, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health Rahayu Mahzam has an acronym that summarises what the Government’s doing (and what we can do) for Healthier SG.

The acronym’s, like Healthier SG, intuitive — HEALTH.

HEALTH for Healthier SG

Harnessing existing health initiatives is where everyone can begin with Healthier SG.

There are already own-time-own-target exercise programmes like the National Steps Challenge. We can also adopt a healthier diet by checking those Nutri-Grade labels on our drinks (love that very nice kopi o kosong!) and the Lower in Sodium label on our groceries.

Meanwhile, the Government helps cooks better our diets with the Healthier Ingredient Development Scheme (HIDS) and works with supermarkets for more Healthier Choice Symbol groceries on shelves. Enforcement against smoking and vaping is also being stepped up.

An Enhanced suite of health programmes follows.

“You will be able to easily identify programs suitable for your health status and sign up for these programs more conveniently through one app: Healthy 365,” said Ms Rahayu.

The app will collate all sorts of healthy lifestyle programmes ranging from self-directed ones to targeted weight management ones to practical healthy cooking workshops. Community centres and eldercare centres will assist people who need help navigating Healthy SG, such as the elderly.

More Active collaboration with community partners, like with PA MESRA and the Muslim Healthcare Professionals Association, will let the Government’s preventive healthcare efforts go further.

Healthier SG’s collaborations also highlight women.

“The feminisation of aging is a well-recognised phenomenon where women face a greater risk and duration of loneliness as those who are married tend to live longer than their husbands,” said Ms Rahayu, noting also that financial insecurity is also a challenge for them.

“I chair a women’s health committee which comprises community partners championing for women’s health issues,” she added. “Together with our partners, we will continue to increase the awareness of women’s health issues and promote healthier lifestyle practices amongst women.”

Looking out for caregivers is important too. The Government is committed to helping seniors live and age well in the community. Here, dementia day care and Night Respite for caregivers of people with dementia are useful.

“We will also provide more help to ease caregiving costs with an enhanced Home Caregiving Grant in 2023,” she said.

Plus, peer-support networks like Project 3I can remind caregivers that no one is alone in his or her caregiving journey. For people nearing the end of life, enhanced palliative care will provide physical, social and spiritual support for them and their families.

“I would like to encourage caregivers to join and benefit from these initiatives,” she added.

Tracking health activities via technology will let us take a picture of our meal (this specially includes local food) in Healthy 365, and see just how many calories it has.

And Healthy 365 will easily track physical activity and healthier food purchases and consumption. We can even share our lifestyle data with our family doctor (just show the app) so that our medical treatments come from a holistic view of progress.

Health-related lifestyle nudges that reward and sustain healthy behaviours are part of Healthier SG too.

“We know that lifestyle behavioural changes are a long-term journey requiring both strong motivation and regular participation,” she said.

Yup, life in Singapore’s busy. Totally agree.

So here, personalised nudges delivered digitally can support us to continue — or get back on track — on those healthy journeys.

Plus, we get Healthpoints when enrolling or having our first consult with our appointed family doctor, then redeem them for #retailtherapy or groceries.

Healthier SG is a virtuous circle for everyone

So, with Healthier SG (and its HEALTH), starting and sustaining a healthy lifestyle’s possible. In fact, it’s such a gotong royong spirit — everyone helping everyone.

“The heart of Healthier SG is empowering residents to choose health for themselves while the system supports them,” she said.

“Let us strive towards living healthier and better lives.”