2022 roundup: Healthier SG because living well’s better than falling ill

29/12/2022

To round off 2022, Petir.sg is looking back at moments where our Party decisively took action this year.

As Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung said at the start of the Healthier SG White Paper debate in October this year, it’s the “Ministry of Health not Ministry of Sickness”.

And really, that’s Healthier SG in a nutshell — living well rather than falling ill.

Rather succinct, considering that Healthier SG’s a long-term overhaul of how Singapore’s hospital doctors, general practitioners, allied healthcare professionals and everyone else affiliated with the Ministry of Health reckon with healthcare matters.

“It is a fundamental re-orientation and reform of our healthcare system, to focus on preventive care instead of curative care, emphasise health instead of sickness, shift the centre of gravity of care away from hospitals into the community,” said Minister Ong when introducing the White Paper on Healthier SG in Parliament in October.

“To rely less on doctors for health, but depend on communities, our families and ourselves.”

Working together against illness

It’s time for this shift too.

Singapore’s population is ageing rapidly which will make disease burden our nation more.

But at the same time, our response to the Covid-19 pandemic showed that Singaporeans can and will take preventive action when the need arises.

“The things we do during the pandemic — vaccinations, tests, self-isolation — are all preventive care in action. We found ways to integrate preventive care with acute care in our hospitals, treatment facilities and with home recovery,” explained Minister Ong about Healthier SG, which Parliament approved on October 5.

Replicating this collective effort in fighting against debilitating chronic illnesses, especially those that come with ageing, would make a big difference in the coming decade, said the Minister for Health.

So that’s why Healthier SG was developed.

Five key components, one overall philosophy

Briefly, Healthier SG’s preventive care efforts involve five key components.

Your family doctor is the linchpin of Healthier SG. He or she will work closely with you and formulate preventive care health plans which are just right for your needs.

These health plans include an overview of your health status, health goals to achieve, and an action plan like health screening, vaccinations, and lifestyle changes.

Community partners like the Health Promotion Board (HPB), People’s Association (PA) and SportSG, will organise health-related activities you can access easily. Changes are difficult, the Ministry knows, so these partners are tasked with creating a supportive environment.

There’ll be a national enrolment exercise for residents to choose the family doctor they want accompanying them on their long-term health journey. This exercise starts in the second half of 2023 with people aged 60 and above.

And don’t worry, you can change your doctor if needed.

Lastly, there will be enablers — the right IT systems, manpower and financing structure. It’s a concerted backend effort to make sure Healther SG proceeds smoothly.

Oh, and Healthier SG doesn’t just include Western medicine. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) also has its place. Its strong emphasis on preventive care fits with what Healthier SG’s about.

“At the heart of Healthier SG is a philosophy of how we choose to live our lives,” summed up Minister Ong in his October 4 speech.

“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 suffering later.”

Top image credits: Healthier SG, Muhammad Faris on Unsplash